Hey everyone. If you read the first part of this during April fools, you didn't read it all. This chapter is over 40 pages, and my April fool's joke was only 10. Don't skip this; it has character development and…stuff. Also, for those who thought my joke was funny, thumbs up. For those who didn't, meh old meme is old. For those who didn't get it, boo you fail the internet. =.= And if you didn't even see it, just…don't bother with the above.

Now, to answer the riddle. When you burn lithium the flame is red, but the metal itself burns pure white. It's actually quite pretty. Points to Kola for getting the red part right; yes a type of Lithium is used in fireworks to make the red tint. You kind of only got half the riddle but since no one else tried, yeah I'll give it to you. Thankyou for not talking crazy Italian lady at me most of this month.

Also, Kola, it's called suspense for a reason, put your big girl panties on and suck it up because you won't get the full story for a while yet.

4.) Beryllium

Such dangerous poison from something so very sweet.


Ordinarily one would say finding a body was the perfect ending to a shitty day, but Kanda knew a homicide only made it drag out all the longer, well into the night in fact, and made the going that much messier. He, however, would not be sticking through that grueling process; Tiedoll's team would be smoothly booted off the scene, it was protocol, they couldn't be 'objective'. Still, he intended, fully intended, to push for a place in the investigation.

He had little hope of succeeding.

Regardless, best place to start was to take control. He did just that as the teams started arriving to process the scene. No one questioned his authority, so he didn't have to make an ass of himself trying to assert it; they followed orders and took their places. He gave a brief report, orally, to Komui upon his arrival to the secured scene. Marie had quickly taken Tiedoll off somewhere; the old fool's emotional wreckage would have only gotten in the way of things.

Kanda purposefully ignored the anxious painful knot twisting itself in his intestines. It was obviously something he ate. Stupid questionable marketplace food cart.

"After visual determination of death I finished clearing the area and secured the scene. No one has entered the building since, Marie, Choaji, and I took up positions around the area until backup arrived. We have not yet approached the vehicle." He capped off the nights events and stood, military straight, before his superior.

"Daisya wouldn't have hidden it so shoddily, nor would he have the ability or desire to bring it on property with that gate up." Komui spoke, looking at the car hidden in the trees. "They brought it in here."

Kanda agreed, "They must have ambushed him in the vehicle to have known where it was, or tortured the information out of him." They had also ripped him open, partially skinned him, and removed his eyes, and teeth, and…

"Tortured? For a car?"

"A simple 'how did you get here,' covers a lot of ground." He flicked a glance at the finder standing beside the captain, who withered beneath his stare.

"Let's get a look at him." Komui motioned for his people to head in and process the scene, when Kanda stepped in beside him he was given a firm, patient look. "Kanda, you and your team may go home. Lieutenant Tiedoll can see Daisya after he's been moved to the morgue."

"Sir, I'm staying on."

"Officers aren't allowed to work incidents involving their own team, Kanda." The Chinese man kept a steady gaze with his officer. "You know this."

'Bullshit, that's bullshit.'His mind ranted and his nails dug crescents into his palms. He remained silent, his face impassive, his eyes hard and flat.

"Go home detective, get some sleep."

The Asian man stood there, a line of dark against the glaring lights being set up around the scene to aid the investigators; his coat lifted on a strong twist of wind, and watched them break the lock and enter the building from the front. Watched police and lab technicians and a few ranking officers of the Order, unfamiliar people, strangers, do his job for his team mate. Go home, he said. Where was home? He had no home, none of them did.

But he snapped those same orders at Marie and Tiedoll, who wept into the shirt of the bushy haired new guy, slammed into his car and sped out as best a windup car could, kicking up sandy soil.

Fortunately for everyone on the street he hit mostly green as he drove from Oviedo back to the greater Orlando area, but stopped red at Tuskawilla. His phone rang, the screen displayed a number he didn't recognize and he tossed it in the passenger, gripped the wheel and stared at the light, 'go home,' Komui said, go home, and he thought about doing just that. Contemplated just driving and driving, until he got to the International Airport. He thought about ditching his car in the parking garage, about boarding a plane and heading home. As close to home, as close to independence and freedom he had ever been in this existence, since before he could remember…those times…just beyond his recollection… he thought about them too, couldn't help but think about them, thought about all that had once been.

He thought about Allen Walker in the hospital bed, terrified eyes staring sightlessly into a world of nightmares Kanda knew all too well.

He wiped suddenly damp palms on his pants, furious at himself for going back, for even a moment in his mind. He didn't want to stay here, in this city, this country, he hated the heat and the muck and the fucking mosquitoes.

He wanted to get back to Tokyo and dive into his investigation; he wanted to pin down the location of the Earl's Japan headquarters. He wanted to put the smug faced Noah agent he would eventually sniff out in a box and grill him until the whole damn prefecture smelled Barbecue.

He didn't want to be anywhere close to the somber slate-eyed Allen Walker. He didn't want to be involved in an investigation that would bring them together again and again. Akuma lab or no, Tiedoll's rampant emotions, dead teammate, orders, and Marie's quiet expectations can all go fuck in a ditch. He was gone.

His phone went off again and he ignored it, the light turned green, he continued on. The summer night was just beginning, though it felt as if the day lasted forever it was only 10. There was still so much he could get done. So what if someone he knew was dead. Someone was always dying, especially in the Order, every one of them ran the risk of being killed, that was the job. You did it anyway. You don't have any choice but to.

He never had any choice.

He was pulling into the parking space for his apartment when the phone rang its third time, he leaned the hairsbreadth to the passenger to retrieve it. Its vibration felt grounding in his hand; the number was that same unknown. "What?" he answered.

"You're a hard man to pin down." The voice was Hispanic sounding, he didn't recognize it as Puerto Rican as he was unfamiliar with most of the Latin Languages. "You do realize you're the only person who knows what happened and you just tore out of here?"

He had no fucking clue what... Oh the Moyashi, quite literally now a vegetable. "I had a call from my partner; one of our team went down"

"I see." The voice he now recognized as Officer LaForteza held sympathy that pissed him off. "I'm very sorry."

"Is there a reason you called?" it irked him that he had to force his hand to relax its hold on the sleek glass case of his phone.

"You need to fill out a report about what happened. We have the vagrant in custody, assault charges, but the hospital needs a statement."

Fucking perfect. "I told the doctor what happened before I left. He got his head cracked on the concrete, not much more to it." He tapped his fingers on the wheel, the headache skulking behind his eyes threatened to be a bad one and he hadn't gotten any new tea.

"And it was so much help, especially how we couldn't track down not a single medical record on anyone named Allen Walker so he had a little hiccup, apparently the kid has metabolic problems; they got him on fluids now. But they scrambled for a time, seizure."

"What?" His grip on both phone and wheel turned damp.

"He's stable, no major problems. Minor swelling in the brain, nothing serious, and lots of medical bull I won't repeat as I can't. Managed to track down his contact info, no thanks to you, and his doctor came by with his records."

"Doctor? Personal?" he was stable, he had a seizure, metabolic disorder?

"Yeah, expensive specialist type. Gave him a once over, and the brainy guys a talking to. He was seizing when Dr. Fiidora came in. Took over, stabilized, and handed over the medical recs so it doesn't happen again. Now they're freaked because of the seizure on top of the brain bruise, but MRIs are showing nothing dangerous. Sedated, and kept for observation. From what I know he'll be released in a day or so, but if you can manage, that is if you're up to it, a report at the hospital on top of any report you file at the station would go a long way to putting the guy behind bars.

Kanda rubbed his eyes, he didn't need the uniform to tell him that, but it pissed him off he didn't remember it himself, and now after everything, and he was already home…

Well, it would give him something to do.

"I'll visit the hospital and give my statement." He pressed end and honked his horn. "Usagi, get out here!"

"What!" Lavi looked out his open window to the parking lot, shirtless and hair mussed. "Yu it's ten at night, and I have an assignment in the morning, your horn is officially illegal.

"Arrest me." He deadpanned "Get in; we're going to get the Moyashi's medical records.

"The what?"

"Your white-assed boyfriend. We're getting his records. Worship me in gratitude later."

"Kanda, they've tried. The kid's a mystery, his file is complete bullshit and any official records are locked down tighter than Lavaliere's ass."

"He's in the hospital."

"No shit?" Lavi's eyes goggled and his voice tightened in worry. "Why? How?"

"I'll tell you on the way, let's move." But Lavi was already back inside, dressing.


"So he was attacked, outside a tea stall, at a relay race, by a homeless Indian dude quoting Resident Evil in a British accent?"


"And you tied him to a surf board carried to you by half naked chicks with belts grown men got bloodied over."

"Didn't I just say that?"

"You have all the fun."

They were in Kanda's car on the way to the hospital, Kanda had tried to give a brief, clipped update of the day's events but Lavi, being a Bookman, had interrupted him more often than he felt he was qualified to tolerate. Badgering him for deeper details, longer explanations, and had spent a not insignificant amount of time laughing at Kanda's sour face when he had accidentally let slip a fraction of his conversation with Allen, specifically the…Bakanda…insult that was really his own fault. If Lavi started calling him that he… well he was kind of running out of death threats for the idiot.

And now he summed up the event much the same way Kanda had wanted to, and it pissed him off.

"Oh and by the way Daisya is dead."

"Yeah, I believe that."

"He was gutted at an Akuma processing shop."

"Now you're just fucking with me." He smirked.

Kanda remained silent.

"Fuck, really? That just... Fuck." He certainly wasn't all smiles now. "It sucks. I liked him." For having only known the guy a few weeks, Lavi had hit it off well with Daisya, who in turn had been amused and supportive of his antics, especially when they involved Kanda.

"I didn't. But yeah, it sucks."

"So are we mission impossible- ing the hospital to distract you or did you fall madly in love with little Allen when you had him pinned beneath you."

Kanda gripped the wheel until his knuckles ached. "Can you be quiet? For the night. Or the car ride, or hell just the next few minutes can we not have your stupid ass jokes?

Lavi's smile fell. "Yeah. Yeah, I'll shut up." he shrugged, "can't promise the night, but until we get to the hospital. Silence." He settled back into his seat, watching the world go by. Kanda's driving was smooth, simple, patient, which said more for his emotions than anybody's blubbering drama.

Daisya? Dead? Fucking unbelievable.


Mission Impossible was a fairly accurate image, considering they had to get into the hospital, find where they kept the medical records, and liberate them, though neither of them had any knowledge at all of the workings inside the medical center.

"I don't know, like an office? With filing cabinets?" Lavi sat with him in the car, planning out just how they were going to do this now that they were actually in the medical district's parking garage. Kanda admitted, not out loud or to the idiot next to him but privately grudgingly to himself, that he had really come here on a whim. Yes, to distract himself. To give him something to do. If he was really honest he would admit that he could have told his superiors and had them send a qualified thoroughly briefed team to retrieve the records. He was here, he dragged Lavi here, and possibly got them both into unnecessary trouble, because he had wanted to see the Moyashi. He wouldn't acknowledge that, though, and continued to remind himself, insist, believe that he was here for the records and the records only.

"Seriously? Filing cabinets?" They were currently trying to come up with the best place for medical records to be stored. "Who the fuck uses filing cabinets anymore?"

"Hey, hard copies are still in vogue, how do you think they get it from room to room in those little manila folders?"

"How do you not know this? Aren't you a Bookman?"

"I'm a historian, you're the secret agent. You've honestly never had to steal records from a hospital?"

"I've had to steal a body once, but that was in Indonesia."

"Why did you have to steal a body from a hospital in Indonesia?" Lavi asked, both curious and mildly scandalized.

"It's best if you never know."

"So, maybe the computer, just to start?" When Kanda gave him an odd look he clarified. "The records, just…check a computer? Everything's on computers today right?"

"You'd know."

"You just don't get along well with machines. Because you punch them, punching is not the best way to communicate, especially with machines." They climbed out of the vehicle and made their way to the elevators.

"If they worked like they're supposed to I wouldn't have to hit them."

"They're delicate instruments,"

"Whatever. You can get in right?" The doors slid open and they stepped onboard.

"No worries just get me alone with one and let me and my magic fingers do the rest." He wiggled said fingers and pressed the button for the ground floor.

"You say that to girls, don't you?"

"This from the single guy." Kanda scowled at him. "Aw, don't look like that Yu, I'm sure there's someone out there who'll put up with your pissy `tude." He ducked the swing aimed at his head and slipped out as the doors opened again. "I bet Chomesuke knows a frigid bitch juuuust perfect for you."

"We are at a hospital, I have exactly zero reason's to hold back." He fisted Lavi's collar with full intentions of doing bodily harm and yanked him back two steps inside the glass doors of the lobby, cool air swept through them at the same time a naked woman streaked past. Even Kanda was not so composed as to let the oddity occur without reaction. He halted, and his eye ticked.

"Great." A baritone voice carried from the waiting area.

"I'll say." LaForteza stood up from one of the chairs and watched two orderlies in hospital scrubs try and apprehend the leggy blonde.

"They should keep the doped ones better monitored." Kanda recognized the mountain of muscle as LaForteza's more mature partner, an older black male with hands big enough to crush heads like apples. "Come on, let's get her."


"Because this is a hospital, with children."

"You're gay aren't you?"

"What? Come on, you've seen my wife."

"Right, so you just don't like hot chicks."

"Why do you say that?"

"I've seen your wife."

Lavi and Kanda were careful to stay out of the officers' line of sight as they passed towards the cafeteria, where the woman was currently cackling as she disturbed and amused various guests.

"Well, if that isn't an open invitation I don't know what is. Let's go." Lavi hurried across the tile towards the now unmanned front desk.

"Yes, because these things are never monitored by video security." But Kanda was right behind him as he started tapping away.

"That's why we're going fast. See, not even locked. Just type in the patient's name and. Fuck."

"What?" Kanda turned from keeping watch to watching the redhead.

"Nothing," he hunched his shoulders defensively, "he's not coming up is all. I'll try a different directory. Might have been misfiled, or hidden. I told you they lock him down."

"Well hurry, we won't get much time."

"See Kanda, this is why you're single. There is not a man in that room who won't take his time trying to catch her." But he was hurrying, fingers dancing as sure as a musician's over the keys. "Shit, I bet even Lavaliere loosens up after some finessing. I can't find it."

"What? What do y- fucking useless I thought you were good at this type of thing."

"Hey, I'm the fucking best outside of Hevlaska, but you can't find what's not there."

"What the fuck does that mean?"

"It means they don't have his records on file."

"Of course they do, his doctor brought it."

"Well it's not here. They don't even have him listed under his real name; he's listed as Iva Tetrels, brain damage, came in this afternoon, now deceased."

"And you think that's him?"

"Only one with head trauma today, says a cop is coming in to fill out a report, I'm guessing that's you."

"You guess right, now guess where his papers are."

"I've got the name of his doctor, let's raid his office." Lavi slid out the chair and they hurried, in an unnoticeable way, to the line of elevators. "You know," He said as they stepped aboard and he pressed the button. "I'm really curious about how you stole that body in Indonesia."

"Find the records and I might tell you."



"Aw, dream crusher." They exited on the floor for brain trauma and Kanda followed Lavi to where he assumed the office was. It was a simple setup, two elevators and a set of emergency stairs opened to a long hallway lined with three doors that ended with a square room-sized space occupied by a large circular desk meant to sit multiple attendants, surrounded by thick glass and manned by a single nurse ducked down behind her console. Beyond the desk were more doors and a hallway that presumably led to even more doors.

With an eye on the attendant they approached the second door on the right side of the hallway. Lavi had just slipped through to the office when a woman in scrubs came off the second elevator behind them.

She stopped and smiled at him, surprised but not at all alarmed "Yu Kanda?" He scowled, pulse thundering, fuck they were caught. "Oh, gosh that was rude, it's last name first right?" She stepped up beside him, smile fake and polite masking a haggard frustration. "If you're looking for the doctor, he's down with a patient, but if you'll come with me we can get this paperwork out of the way." He didn't dare cast a glance at the door, and simply followed the woman towards the circle of consoles. The other attendant didn't even pretend to care and continued playing facebook games on her phone, hidden behind the computer. His guide didn't bat an eye at her behavior, and simply grabbed a clipboard from a drawer and directed him to a set of chairs to the side. "When you're finished, just let me know." She walked back into a room, in a few minutes she left, not even acknowledging him as she passed back towards the elevators.

He released his breath through his nose when the metal doors closed on her. Turning towards the papers in front of him. He was a police officer, paperwork was the vast majority of the job, knocking out a simple incident report took all of five minutes, but he idled over it, buying Lavi time. What was taking him so long? Was he tossing the whole damn office?

"Finished sweetie?" He looked across at the woman who had been playing the games. Her phone was down now and she had her chin propped in her palm, watching him. He vaguely recognized her, short brown hair, oval face, green eyes, but couldn't place her just yet. He felt a little unnerved by her dark-eyed meaningful look though, and scowled. She tapped her clean, blunted nails on the counter. "Put it here."

He did so; face neutral, eyes flat and bored, placing himself firmly in the line of sight for the office door, chanting a mantra in his head for Lavi to not exit the room now.

"I know what you want." She gave him that knowing smile; he felt his mouth go dry.

"Right." He sneered. "And I'm guessing you're in the position to give it to me?" he scoffed, turned to go sit back down, but held his ground a few seconds more, the office was in full view of the circle of consoles, shit he had to do something. "I'm not interested; go flirt with a security guard."

"Oh, no." She sat up, suddenly flustered. "Not at all, it's not like that." Kanda raised a skeptical eyebrow. "See I know the other two officers are in charge of the assault, and that it's kind of a thing with visiting the victim, and its past hours and you got to be family, right?" She rambled, "but you brought him in and I know how personal things like this get." So that's what it was, she was that annoying orderly who had badgered him when he brought the Moyashi in. When he said nothing she walked around the console to approach him. "Here, look at these." She opened a drawer and pulled out two silver pea-sized star earrings. "These were in his ears. It's not unusual for guys these days to have both ears pierced and wear studs, he probably fiddles with them, idle hands, twists them around which is why they were inverted." Kanda picked one up and studied it, put in back in her palm. "See, I think the man is one of those wakkos, the religious zealots, and thought he was the devil or something," she shook her head and replaced the earrings back in their cubby. "Cute kid like that, a little odd, plus there's… the scar."

That got his attention. Having placed her face his anxiety had mellowed out as he listened to the amateur theories, but now his pulse thundered for a different reason. "Scar?"

Her voice lowered in the way of those about to say something they aren't supposed to. "I think he may have been abused, poor guy. He's so young, it's really awful, I can't imagine someone doing something like that to such a cute face."

A scar on his face? His gut clenched, he hadn't noticed one. "Has someone injured him while he's been saying here?"

"No," she shook her head. "No no, at least I don't think so. He's pretty sedated, nothing to put him down because of the concussion, but very calm and a little...well delirious, panicky. We check him every hour, mandatory, though someone's always peeking into the rooms here, habit, just in case. It's pretty impossible to sneak in." Kanda remained silent on that one. "No, this is an old scar. He was wearing some kind of cover-up, probably tattoo concealer since it was a pain to wash off. I have some remover in my bag, we aren't allowed to show tattoos here so I, well I got this cute little butterfly on my neck during spring break, you know? Maggie knew, so she had me get it." She was completely oblivious to Kanda's immense disinterest in her rambling. "He's, well that is, you want to see him don't you?"

Kanda looked back at the elevators, more specifically the office near them. Where was Lavi?

"Don't worry, the officers aren't coming back up." She misread his look. "They left for the night, so you won't get hassled." She was smiling like she knew everything when he faced her, and she may have been at least fractionally right. He did want to see the idiot who caused so much trouble.

"What room is he?" Lavi was taking too damn long anyway, and he would look ridiculous lingering, and he did not want to make…conversation with that woman. Besides, if he left maybe she'd go back to playing her phone.

"Hallway, third door, left side." Her whole body read 'I knew it' and she walked back to the console, pleased with herself. He gave her an odd, confused stare before turning and walking off. He just, well sometimes he just didn't get people, which contributed a lot to his dislike of them. He opened the door and stepped inside.

Kanda had only intended to stand in the doorway. To look into the room and satisfy some counterintuitive urge to make sure the whiney little bitch hadn't really become a limp white vegetable like he had, god was it really only a few hours ago?threatened to make him. He had promised himself just a quick visit, stand inside until he was sure Lavi had had enough time and then leave. Why a portion of him felt the need so desperately to come here when every other part of him was indifferent and even angry, well he didn't feel up to analyzing that.

This man had ties to Cross, Cross had ties to the NOAH, this man had ties to the Noah, who were the enemy, who killed someone he, grudgingly, considered family, this man was the enemy, this man killed Daisya. The logic was, well, illogical, but he was never a very logical person. So he told himself he was observing the enemy, was monitoring a potential prisoner, until he stepped into the doorway and saw him in that bed.

He was in one of those tie-on hospital gowns, the sheets and blanket tucked around him. An IV slowly dripped fluids into his system through his right arm, his left was..purple?. At first he thought it had been amputated, it would explain the prosthetic, but when he looked he saw it was a complete arm and hand, the size of a toddling child's, not even long enough to reach his waist, and purple tattoos twisting around his bloodlessly-pale shoulders, slashed with what he assumed were irritation marks from the prosthetic harness, they were a bright angry red, like fresh blood against all that white skin.

His hair had been brushed back from his face, his eyes bruised and swollen, lip puffy from before, probably worse from more biting.

What got him, what needled into him like fish hooks and pulled him into the room was the equally red, equally unexpected scar slashing like a mark from an angry fingerpainting child down the right side of his face.

There hung a white board on the wall and he crossed to it, read the scrawling text detailing patient status and needs, it recorded his tetanus shot, mentioned topical steroid skin cream, eye wash for…phthisis bulbi? Whatever that was. Something called Anticonvulsant Therapy was at 6pm, 30mg of phenobarbitone prophylactically, next treatment was due at 2am. There was a clipboard with papers, an intravenous fluid balance chart, a graph like diagram labeled Head Injury Chart with connected dots in columns titled things like eye control, verbal response, and motor response. Little notes like 'alert but confused' and 'panics often' littered the page. There were charts for blood pressure and pupil dilation, only the right one had any recordings on it though, and limb movement.

His speech was also recorded, and Kanda found a choppy, abbreviated transcript of his verbal responses. Most of them were the simple answering of questions by the doctors, some were inquiries of his own, which even Kanda knew was normal, memory loss went hand in hand with head injuries, from the notes it looked like the Moyashi lost about a day.

He pulled out his phone and snapped quick pictures of the charts and graphs, the whiteboard, and of Allen himself. The scar kept drawing him in, no matter how he tried to adjust it into the whole of the picture. It stood out too harshly. The nurse was right. This wasn't new; this was an old scar, a childhood scar perhaps, jagged around the edges from where skin stretched to accommodate a growing face. The red color looked to be the same angry inflammation that scored the rest of his skin.

He leaned over the bed and traced its raised path from chin to cheek to eye, then up until it ended in an inverted pentacle. 'Stars,' the vagrant had said, but he couldn't have seen this, Kanda himself hadn't noticed it.

A shift shocked him into attention and he pulled back, watched Allen's face twitch, his eyelids tremble, crack, and reveal a sliver of sleepy eyes. One foggy, confused gray, the other a clouded white, blind.

When the eyes blinked open fully Kanda was already gone. The albino stretched and, figuring some activity from a nurse had woken him, returned to sleep, the drugs pulling him back under in a hazy cloud of numbness.


He was in the elevator going down before he realized he had left Lavi in the office. Swearing he kicked the door and pressed the button to go back up. He may hate the bastard most of the time, and act a world class asshole, but you didn't leave your partner uncovered. No matter what.

The elevator opened on the lobby floor, he saw that they had apprehended the naked woman, or the chase had moved to another location, the open area was quiet but for a few wandering persons, an attendant manned the front desk and a security guard chatted with him.

The doors slid closed again, but instead of going back up, the arrow remained pointed down. He swore at his luck, of course someone would call the elevator, why not, it's not like this day was particularly eventful.

Two floors down and Lavi and Kanda were facing each other.

"Yu!" He ducked a straight arm jab at his nose. "How'd you know I was here?" Lavi stepped back, indicating for Kanda to exit.

"I didn't."

"Aww, you were going to ditch me weren't you."

"I wish." He glared at the redhead, hands immediately going to his pockets. The place was freezing. Kanda hated hospitals, the chill of the rooms, the harsh chemical smell, the never ending cacophony of electronic beeping and whirring, and the false friendliness slathered over the worn, tired indifference of the faces of the people who worked there. It reminded him far too much of the labs he was born in, raised in, committed murder in. "I filled out that stupid report, then went in to see the Moyashi." This place was freezing and dead silent, like that room, where they all had slept.

"The what?" Lavi blinked then burst out in a grin. "Oh, you went to see Allen. Aww, Yu that's so cute. Did he shower you with love and gratitude?"

"He was unconscious. I just took pictures and left. Why did you leave the office?"

"Because I found it!" he did a little hip wiggle "Kanda, I got the records."

"No shit?"

"Yeah, when you weren't outside I just came down. It was in a morgue freezer under the name Iva Tetrels."

"It was with a dead body?"

"It was the dead body. Empty locker. Didn't I tell you Allen was Iva?"

"No." He said automatically, then thought back. "Yes, maybe. Do you have them or not?"

"Yes. I have them. Right here." He held up a small black chip, like a memory file for a camera. "It was in a portable safe in the locker."

"Smart, I guess." Kanda took it, turned it in his hand.

"Who wants to search the stiffs right?"

"Problem," he held it in his thumb and forefinger; "if this is the only copy and we take it, the Moyashi's treatment could be mishandled." He thought back on all the notations for glucose level monitoring and steroid treatment.

"That is such a cute nickname, I'm totally calling him that from now on. No worries, give me your phone." Lavi took the chip back.


"There's an app for that." He laughed and pulled out a small device the size of a hot wheel toy.

"Use your own phone." He retreated a half step as Lavi reached for him.

"Can't, I have a Razor."

"Fucking pussy." But he relented and pulled his phone from his jacket.

"Love you too," Lavi hooked the black thing into the charging port and stuck the chip in that. "I made this myself, isn't it beautiful?" He smiled at Kanda, who glowered, as a program was installed onto his phone. "I'm still working on the other models, only the iphone works with it right now, it'll extract the information and copy it byte by byte, even if it's read only or locked. If it's on there, it's ours… ah," The phone beeped. "Yes, even if it's encrypted, hold on I can fix this."

"Well fucking great," Kanda read the alert that had put Lavi's back up.

"Hey I crack ancient puzzles in dead languages I can handle a little code. For now, full copy, every little gigabyte. Hope you don't mind not having space on your phone."

"That's okay. You can delete your contact if you need more."

"How hurtful."


It was past one when they made it back to the station, a small remodeled store front off of International Drive, next to the Fun Spot thrill park and the Flea Market. Komui had personally seen to the preliminary examination and removal of evidence from the scene, and rubbed weary eyes as he pulled into the parking lot. Although the official papers said it was only a remodeled department store, they had annexed a few other closed down stores within the building, breaking down walls to make room for the science department, electronic division, private morgue, and other such necessities the City of Orlando really didn't need to know about. The Black Order had a way of sprinkling it's personnel among the countless divisions of government worldwide without the nations being aware, but in the years Komui had worked for them he had never seen the transplanting of an entire branch, as Spartan as it was.

His first stop would be his office, he had reports to write up and calls to make, calls to follow up on. He wished Reever were in charge of the lab here, but someone had to run headquarters. Instead he opened the door fully intending to call Riggory Peck, a man he found arrogant, insulting, and an overall pain in the ass, that intent evaporated when he was greeted by visitors. He stared in shock, frozen in the doorway, hand on the knob.

From behind his desk, sitting in his chair, Lavaliere smiled. "Come in Supervisor, we have things to discuss."


When Allen dreamed, he dreamed of sorrow and pain and loss.

It was a facet of his life he had come to accept. He would never be free of it; he had long ago been made to understand that. Sometimes it kept him awake, fearful of the black void lurking behind his eyes, stalking him like a starving beast. He couldn't sleep at night, where the dark world intensified the shadow of his terrors, where the beasts of his past were strongest, fastest, hungriest. He slept, every day if he could manage, in the blue glow of dawn.

This night he slept in darkness, forced into it by drugs and his own healing body; so on this night when he dreamed, he suffered.

It had been night then too, powder fine snow seeming to dance outside the windows, naked trees like skeletal limbs jutting up sparingly from the sidewalk to curl black against the streetlights and the festive decorations strung about. The car hummed pleasantly beneath his seat, it was so rare he was allowed up front; when they hitched a ride he was always in the back or squeezed between Mana and the door. The radio was turned to Christmas music and they sang along, bouncing in their seats, though he often insisted he was too old to listen to kiddy songs, to bounce. He was eleven now, or would be tomorrow, officially. The excitement of the night had him temporarily forgetting his assertions that he was almost a teenager, practically an adult, and should no longer be treated like 'a baby.'

His paper crown slipped down his head and he straightened it, Cross had given him a packet of crackers and they had pulled them all that night, Mana had pulled the silver crown, but had given it to Allen without him even asking. It looked good on him, Mana always said, soft colors looked best on him. They had then spent what seemed like hours figuring out riddles and Allen had thought Cross was so very wise and worldly, mostly because he swore a lot and didn't scold him when he repeated the words.

The song ended and the host spoke a bit about news, he didn't really like to listen to it, especially when they went on about the Queen's speech tomorrow, he found it boring, but at least he wasn't made to listen to it like he was to go to church. Mana fussed over him, but the other adults gave him odd looks, told him to put his hood down and be still, listen up and appreciate. Nevermind that they whispered about his looks when he did put his hood down, he was already sour thinking about them, if there was an old lady like last year who pinched him he was going to blow his top and throw a wobbly and everyone could fucking deal with it. Stupid bint.

They stalled at a light and Mana laughed at his frown, reaching over to rub the wrinkle from his forehead with fingers that squished and prodded and tickled, all the while teasing him.

"Stop pinching me!" he cried in indignation, swatting at the hands that had stretched his face into a mocking Cheshire grin. His crown skewed on his head and he tugged it firmly on, crossing his arms and huffing, but he smiled a little as he watched the world begin to roll by once more. It had been a long time since they had been in London, since they had run away those years ago. It seemed like a lifetime.

In his lap was a brown paper bag of cookie cutters, he dug out a shiny, metal star and turned it in his hand. It gave a glimmer, like silver, in the passing beams of the streetlights and he watched the distorted reflection of the world in preoccupation. Mana was talking, he didn't know if it was to him but he sounded worried, and his voice was muffled. Allen couldn't really hear him, couldn't make out what he was saying, like he had cotton in his ears, he turned to look at him, his face was in shadow, his lips blurred.

Then the world exploded.

The jarring of movement, he was thrown against the seatbelt, felt it catch and suck the breath from him, his head slammed the dash and hot, sharp pain split his face. Sounds, like so many whistles being blown at once, shrieking of metal, the weightless bottomless feeling in his gut and a wall of grey, and Mana's hand on his shoulder.

He woke.

For several blind panicking moments he was back there, in that cold London hospital Christmas day. It was cold, so cold he couldn't feel his fingers and toes, his limbs tingled, his head pounded, he couldn't breathe, everything hurt and the smell of chemicals was so suffocating and his head was splitting, his chest burned, burned burned. It all swarmed around him in a plague of biting emotions and phantoms that closed in on him, his throat clogged, he couldn't breathe.

He groped for the call button, pressed and held as he tried to suck in air in lungs crushed in metal and fiberglass and blood, so much blood, oh god Mana. Mana. Mana. Mana.


Neah slumped against the door of his prison.

He had heard every cry, every whispered plea or agonized scream of his name and had pounded and raged against the obstruction that kept them apart. But it was all useless, metaphysical illusions. Allen had locked him away, and only Allen could open the door without consequences.

He could force his entry, but at what price? Even as he listened, as their connection tugged painfully at him like millions of fishhooks tearing bloody strips of his skin while his dearest nephew faught against his past and panic, his rationale reminded him that to break the barrier was to destroy the child he was so anxious to protect.

So as he longed to console his brothers son, to stretch out beneath his skin and hold him in the only manner ghosts can hold the living, he remained, slumped against the fragile illusion of a door, and prayed to his brother's spirit that when the drugs wore off his beloved child would think to look for him in this prison.

Until then, he suffered through the role once more of silent observer to Allen's torture.


Lavi and Kanda had agreed that it would be best to unencrypt the drive at home and turn it in, along with a detailed report, in the morning, after a thorough study of the contents and a few copies. Lavi being a Bookman and Kanda just not trusting the Order worth a damn, they didn't think that the information would be made available to them in its entirety by the higher-ups. Lavi had then fallen asleep while the program had been running. When the data came up he had done nothing but glance at the red-head, passed out on the couch, before taking the chip from the living room computer into his own private bedroom, alone to study the contents in peace.

Sitting cross legged on his narrow bed with his laptop balanced on his knees he opened the document he had been working on while the disc had decrypted, a newly created file on Allen Walker, and thought back on the conversation they had had in the car as they drove towards home. Lavi had been unusually quiet for the first few miles as they drove back to their apartment in Metro West. Kanda had not bothered with wondering about it or figuring the reasons, and had simply enjoyed it. For it couldn't last. And indeed it hadn't, because as soon as they reached Millennia Lavi was opening his mouth.

"You know the story of the last time the Earl appeared?" Lavi had asked, breaking the silence that Kanda had been so enjoying. "You know, why his last run faltered, and died off?"

"That one of the Noah's betrayed him and joined the Order," Kanda answered, it was common knowledge. In fact it was basic Order History. "Almost took him down, the Earl killed the traitor and went under with the last surviving Noah for a while, restructured. It's why we know dick about them now; they changed all their little nicknames." Which was annoying, and the Order never failed to blame that one traitorous Noah for ruining their chance against the Earl. Forget that he gave them the chance to begin with.

"Yes, biblical to science, seven deadly and apostles to elemental and alchemical. It's a brain twister."

"The point? Before I stab you with it."

"Well" Lavi tapped a quick repetition against the windowsill before grabbing the chicken stick and pressing his face against the glass, "he did something, sabotaged something really important, something the Order can use, but got killed before he could pass the information."


"So…The Noah's name was Neah," he met Kanda's eyes in a brief glance, "Walker.

Kanda's hand tightened on the wheel, fingers snug in places where the cover had worn down by the constant gripping he seemed to do. "Don't tell me..."

"Allen Walker was adopted by the now deceased Mana Walker 15 years ago, making him the only surviving relative of Neah Walker."


"You getting his importance now?"

"You mean to say that skinny little brat is related to the traitor Noah?"

"His only living relative, and Cross keeps him very secured. We don't know if he's part of their group or not-"

"That's a given"

"No, listen: Neah betrayed them, there's no proof Allen is or is not part of the group, but there's the whatever-he-sabotaged element." they hit a light and Kanda turned to look at him fully. "If he had information he may have passed it to his brother, who was with him at the time, who may have given it to his son. We don't know if he's involved with the Noah, for all we know Cross took him to keep him from being used by the Order. But he's important to them."

"If they can be found by us..."

"Our jobs are to monitor Cross to see if he's betrayed us for the Noah, and if the Noah try for Allen, to get him out of harm's way." The light changed and they went on, it was a few moments before Kanda responded.

"Cross knows we're there."

"Of course. He's a veteran Order member. I'm the only one he lets near him, because I'm Bookman."

"If you had told me he was connected to the fucking Noah I would have been on the case." Kanda snapped, rapping a fist against the side of Lavi's head.

"Ow, damn it. You needed to be on the case for me to tell you." Lavi rubbed his temple.

"I'm not on it now."

"No, now Allen is in the hospital and Daisya is dead."

Well, he was right about that.

Allen Walker was an important key to taking down the Earl? If, and it was a big unlikely if, he wasn't already neck deep in the whole fucking thing already.

So, the question was… how far into this shithole did he want to dig?

There was no question he was interested now, and he did need something to keep his mind off the Daisya investigation. The5re was no way Tiedoll would let him go back to Japan, losing one 'son' just as he gained another, no they would need to hold together as a 'family.' Cross did have ties to the Noah, so Allen would be a good ticket to at least fragments of information. Simply talking about the traveling he did as a teen with Cross would go a long way to pinpointing Akuma hotspots. Really it could be very fortuitous for him.

And he was being oddly persuasive with himself. He rubbed a hand over his eyes. It wasn't like he had to convince himself of the benefits of joining the team, he just felt a little apprehensive of his usefulness, which shouldn't normally be the case except that he was fairly certain any encounters with the Moyashi would end in insult and bloodshed. So it would actually be in the investigations best interest to exclude him; and on a more personal level, he just didn't like the feel of the situation. He really just did not want to be near him, there was a wave of something, like solid air, between them that seemed to both push and pull. It was a frustration of an elemental way, something he couldn't change and simply had to weather through, like traffic or high winds.

Except it wasn't a force of nature or humanity, he could bully his way through it, he was sure, as much as he could bully his way through traffic.

He didn't quite understand how or why or what Allen Walker triggered inside him, but it was pissing him off and he had just about enough of it. The best way, he decided, was to drag the dark secrets the man hid out into the light, to upend them and pick through the scattering until every little piece had been turned and examined. Everyone had their private trauma; he saw the faces of the victim every day, in every person he brushed against in his profession. No one was without their scars, once he had unearthed the Moyashi's he was sure whatever pull it had would fade.

That being decided he inserted the disk and began his search.

Almost immediately Kanda got a decent idea of what he was working with, because of the latest brain trauma someone had made notations for the doctors working on him. Considering he had a seizure in their care without it Kanda didn't blame whoever it was for treating them like idiots. Still, he began at the earliest record 16 years ago and worked his way from there.

A knock had him looking up. He was halfway through cursing the awakening of Lavi when his mind registered Marie in his doorway, knuckle raised against the paneling. "Sorry if I'm disturbing you, I didn't expect you to be up this early."

Kanda glanced at the time on his screen, it was past two. "No, it's fine." He almost closed the laptop, then didn't because… well it was Marie. "I'm just working on some stuff. Why are you here?" Then snapped his mouth shut with a click of teeth. DUH. "Want tea? It's my last pot, so get it now."

"Ah, sure. I just came by to see Miranda." Yes, a visit with his girlfriend, a visit that happened to last into the A.M. While Marie walked to the little pot on the desk and poured himself what was left of the Sencha Green Tea, Kanda took this moment of his back being turned to rub the heel of his hand into the spasming muscle in his eye. Of all the idiots Tiedoll claimed were his family Marie was the closest he had to an actual brother, and he in no way wanted to think about his brother having sex in the room down the hall. "Tiedoll has decided to wait until the morning to visit Daisya, give the coroner and investigators breathing room."

"Makes sense, it's just a corpse after all." Kanda had enough respect for the man beside him to stop his research and look him in the eye.

"For once that isn't as callous as you want to make it. Tiedoll said the same last night." Marie, big as a maple and twice as sweet, dwarfed the desk chair he settled into, studying him with pearl eyes over the rim of the mug in his large hands. He looked like a grown man at a little girl's tea party. It was an endearing manner of his, to look both competently lethal and at the same time compassionate and understanding. Kanda also knew he could hear his every breath and heartbeat; that that intense study was him reading his reactions, and he was the only one who could and Kanda wouldn't care.

"That old man can be sensible in some things at least." He tapped the space bar to keep the screen from going to sleep. "Let me guess, he's holed up in his studio sketching out a great tribute."

"A seashore, I believe." He smiled, and it wasn't all sadness this time. "The coastal city Daisya called home, once upon a time."

"God help us if he paints the wall again. You know how he likes to light them up."

"It's his way Kanda, his tribute to us."

"Yeah well, if he ever asks what I want to have painted I'm pouring his paints down his throat." Anyone else would have reprimanded him. Marie just gave him that annoyingly patient look that was both amused and censure. He rolled his shoulders and pressed his fingers back to the keys. "Not the toxic ones."

"Working on a case?"

"Not yet, but maybe soon."

"Allen Walker." Kanda's heart didn't exactly skip, as that would be physically impossible, but his breath hitched and his pulse sped, for a moment, as it might if Marie had pulled a pistol on him rather than a name.


"Sweet boy, clever. He lies very well."

"Lies." Kanda looked at him. "About what?"

"Everything." He extended his arm as if to encompass every encounter he had with the albino. "Sometimes about things he really needn't, his favorite food for one, to Jerry. His favorite color and movie, he lied to Lavi about the book he read the previous night, lied to Daisya about being bad at sports, lies, often, about anything to do with cars."


"Yes he gets twitchy, little sparks of anxiety, around any car or truck or, well, anything."

"Makes sense," Kanda pulled up what he had gathered from the internet to fill in his findings. "Since his father died in a car crash." He knew Marie couldn't see it, but felt the man's tensed interest. "Listen, this kid, he's a cocktail of disorders, Holt Oram syndrome, type 0 Glycogen Storage Disease, cardiac conduction defect, recurrent post-traumatic stress disorder with panic disorder and major depression. And it isn't like he doesn't get treatment. Everything from medication to a pacemaker. Imipramine during a PTSD relapse, 50mg raised to 250mg over three weeks. It says they tried behaviorally oriented treatment to deal with phobic-avoidant behavior, but he didn't respond well to their techniques."

"Phobic-avoidant? Of cars, I suppose."

Avoiding anything that reminds him of whatever trauma he had was definitely cowardly in Kanda's eyes, a familiar cowardice he remembered well. 'Has to be bad if he keeps going to these sessions, every couple of months after a relapse he goes into counseling, stays a few visits, then breaks it off and doesn't go back.' "Car crash, that'll do it." he leaned back in satisfaction as he skimmed the report and all the charts he was becoming familiar with, the look Marie was giving him, shocked and impressed, was a little ego swelling. "Eleven years old. Run off the road by another car, slammed into a bridge abutment, crushed the entire drivers side, took the paramedics thirty minutes to arrive, his father was pronounced DOS, nasty mess to clean up. The Moyashi was unconscious, blood loss. So he was probably awake and aware for a while before the paramedics got to them." Shitty thing to see at a young age, he should know.

"Kanda, do you realize this is more information than anyone has ever uncovered on him?" Marie could hear the truth in what Kanda spoke, could hear that, if nothing else, he believed this information he was telling. "All our files, they're nothing. Nothing but ghosts and rumor."

"Yeah well, they have to know something, the big bosses just aren't telling you all. After all, Cross was surveilling them three years before he took the kid and ran. They had to know something. These records, they begin when he's seven."

"Records? What records."

"Medical records."

"Kanda," Marie had to set the cup down, steepling his fingers before his mouth, resting his elbows on his knees as he hunched forward, "how did you get hold of Allen's medical records?"

"I traded for them. He gave me the records and I gave him a world class blow job."

"I didn't know you had any experience with oral."

"Ha ha. Why can't anybody just shut up and accept the fact that I'm a fucking ace detective." Marie didn't choose to inform him that in the ways of deductive reasoning Kanda was sadly lacking. "And the Moyashi is in the hospital. Attacked at Lake Eola today. And before you get all tense and worried like that snoring idiot out there, he's fine, he's recovering, it was practically nothing."

"You just decided to sneak in and steal his records."

"Lavi said it was an open invitation. There was even a nudist psycho to distract security."

"I don't recall ever having that kind of luck in Indonesia."

"No shit, could have used it there." Kanda smirked, assured that Marie had his back, not that he'd doubt it but going in cocky had a history of biting asses. "So, do you want to hear the rest?"

His mountain of a teammate leaned back with a pained protest from the chair. "By all means, brief me on my mission sir detective."

"Shrapnel and a star shaped cookie cutter had to be surgically removed from the left side of his face. He lost sight in his left eye; he also suffered severe injuries to the chest, impaled from shoulder to hip by the wreckage.

"Cookie cutter? He doesn't have any scarring that would indicate that kind of injury."

"He does, I saw it myself. Apparently our target is well versed in the arts of face paint. Considering his makeup is practically indistinguishable from his natural skin tone."

"Interesting, and that would explain his aversion to being on the left of everyone. Blind spot."

"I'm a well of interesting tonight. His first dosage of antidepressant caused his heart failure, until that time no one had even known about his ventricle defect, or the cardiac conduction disease." Fucking up his treatment was apparently a trend with his doctors, as the dosage had caused pulmonary hypertension and the failure of the left side of his heart. "He got his first pacemaker that day, and was dropped to 10 mg imipramine partnered with a therapeutic dosage of doxepin, followed up with serial electrocardiograms." He tapped the screen where the words were with his index finger, no reason he should let on that he had no idea what the fuck half those words meant.

"He went under again at the age of 15 for an independently designed pacemaker crafted by a private firm, one with an advanced blood battery. That's ah, a battery that takes energy directly from your bloodstream, cutting edge even now, still in the 'fuck you, you can't have one' experimental stages." He made a notation of the name of the company for later study. He continued on through the years, following the frequent attempts at behavior therapy, the repeated failures. "He was taken off the therapeutic dosages after he had recovered from the heart failure and was put on the basic 50-250 he's continued to present.

"So this begs the question." Marie picked up his mug and sipped the tepid tea. "How does one recover from PTSD?"

He remembered medication, useless therapy where they sat him with a shrink and spoke soothing things at him, the videos of horror movie deaths and dog fights, the crime scene stills and the trips to the slaughter house, rags stained in pig and cow blood, the headless chickens, bodies convulsing in his hands as the blood shot from the hose that had once been a neck, the severed head staring at him, eyes black and accusing. You killed me Yu, you killed me, you killed me, you killed me.

And as soon as the smell and sight of blood stopped sending him into ashen panic, when he could swallow back the nausea and push forward on legs slightly steadier than warm gelatin, he was thrust back into the Order. Back into the battle, where the smell of blood and death and city grime never washed out. Where every minute of his life was scheduled, down to his school clubs. Where he began the day with basic exercise and torture resistance before school and ended it with deductive reasoning and weapons training, before taking a shot of sedatives to make sure he slept properly for the next day's schedule.

He knew that physicians must demonstrate warmth, empathy, and persistence to help someone through it, and be completely nonjudgmental. His shrink had been none of that. A paper face over an investigative and accusing sneer. He had spent three sessions with the usual therapy before he linked arms with the bastards in charge and decided the new tactic of frequent exposure would be the best course of action. Kanda hated to admit it, but the exposer had been a great help in his coping, even if it had been extreme

"You can't keep running away, you have to face it. That's how you get over it, you deal with it until it's not a problem anymore."

"You mean exposure therapy."

"I mean-"

"You mean like what they did to you.

Kanda was silent, then replied. "Not exactly. Not in that way."

"Kanda, what are you planning?"

This time Kanda sat back against the wall, the pillow a cushion against his back, thinking. He wasn't really planning anything. Allen Walker was a dangerous additive to his life, he could already sense it. And it wasn't, or wasn't entirely, his initial refusal to join the investigation. It was that… apprehension. He had wanted to air out as much of the Moyashi's secrets as possible. So far, it was turning out to be…enlightening, but ultimately ordinary. He wasn't the first one to have a parent die in front of him, making it a foster parent, or having birth defects, didn't really change anything. Kanda had gone through worse long before his first 'family' had been slaughtered in front of him, and he had finished off the last one with his own hands.

Hot, sticky blood, cold white rooms, chemicals and copper in the air. That was what nightmares were made of. A car crash was nothing. He could forgive the Moyashi a lot of things, and in his opinion, since he hadn't murdered the bastard, he had. But this? He couldn't forgive him such an…unimpressive trauma.

"It's just a car crash Marie, it's not like me. Not at all."

"If you say so," He set the cup down on the tray beside the pot and rose. "I can wash these, if you'd like."

"Yeah. Sure." Kanda handed him his own cup. "Leaving? Or going back to bed?"

"Its three, no point in going home now."


"Kanda?" He paused at the door. "We know, don't we? What it's like to wake up in a place that holds so many horrible memories."

Dark eyes met blind white and he felt that headache start to stir and wake behind his skull. He didn't answer, and Marie left towards the kitchen.

With a sigh he adjusted and tried to get comfortable, rearranging his thoughts, considering. What did it take to recover from PTSD?

Zhu had been his rock, the one with the genuine interest in the incident, in the meaning of his fears and anxiety, the flashbacks, the illusions. He had drawn him out, had become a confident by means Kanda didn't recognize or acknowledge at the time. Without him Kanda didn't think the therapy would have worked at all. There were certainly times after a session he wanted to curl up in his room and never get up again. One of the things he had done was to educate him on his attacks, so he could understand, recognize his symptoms, and deal with them appropriately. Meditation to calm and clear his juvenile mind of all the rampant thoughts waging war within him, breathing exercises to prevent hyperventilation when his attacks set in.

So, what did he know about the Moyashi?

The records indicated small, cheap doctors and hospitals, no one who specialized in his particular disorders, rare as they were, and all in places two skips shy of the Third World, and the two invasive surgeries for the pacemaker probably didn't help him feel comfortable at hospitals. Then he hit fifteen and suddenly he had specialists and medication that wasn't a concoction of pesticide ridden herbal remedies and voodoo, and that spanking new experimental pacemaker with a battery that ran on his own life juices.

So what could have happened for this sudden stroke of luck, aside from being annexed into the Noah?

Well, he could always wheedle it out of him. If he decided to go the route of amateur therapist. After all, who better to win his trust then a guy who knew what he was going through?

And his mind was jumping spaces. He was supposed to be working on a therapy plan, but couldn't keep his thoughts in a straight line. Marie was right, it was past three, too late to be thinking about all this. He saved his notes and added a copy of the records to his file, knocked out a brief report on their acquiring of the records, and decided he would get an early start on his morning routine, squeeze in a little time to drop by the hospital early morning.

There was another thing he liked about Marie, he hadn't asked him how he was doing, how he was handling it all. Finding Daisya as he had. In that lab where the scent of blood and death and chemicals merged. What was it like, he wondered, to wake up in a place you hate and fear? Kanda felt like he couldn't really remember, it was so long ago. All he had were these incidents, which he normally could keep a handle on, and when they did happen, these brief moments, they could be debilitating. And that was after recovering from his PTSD. So…what was it like?


What was it like? Allen knew exactly what it was like. To wake in a hospital with no memories, no clue, no one beside him to tell him it was all going to be all right.

Not since the car crash.

He hadn't gone back to sleep since the nightmare. Had refused the sedatives pushed at him until they had to strap him down to stick it in, he had tried to pull the IV out when the doctor went to slip it in there. Panic was an icy dagger stabbing and twisting in his gut, they were drugging him up, keeping him down, keeping him locked away. They were going to take him away and put him back in that circus, back in the cage with the faces pressed against the bars. He didn't want to go into the cage, into the dark and cold, with the filth and the feces. The chains. Yet for all the hatred he had for that filthy rusty pen it was better than the belly box he was put to bed in every night, and it was much much better than the Tober Omi's tent. Sometimes he fought when they put him in the cage, sometimes he never wanted to leave. The children watching, poking, making fun of him, throwing things and sometimes it hurt.

Sometimes it was food and he could eat. Hotdogs or candy floss. Be grateful for the jerry, he would whisper to himself, be grateful or you may be jerry yourself. Cute little boy, make your money chavi or you'll be sent to the ken tonight. Do you want to earn your keep up in the slanger tonight chavi? His mind was contorted strangely, knotted and twisted, whispering things in the Tober Omi's sweet persuasive voice.

He didn't want to go there; he never wanted to go back there ever again. He would be punished. Punished for slashing what he could and scarpering away with that worthless auguste. Knobs of his gnarled mind still held those whispers, still contained pockets of that voice that made everything seem so ordinary and reasonable.

Listen here you miserable cuss. Those jossers pay good dinari to visit our humble funfair. This ain't no paper house. We need Mr. and Mss. Wood and all the little woods filled up good yeah? So how about getting off your lazy little ass and putting on a good show for the flatties to dik. Or maybe we'll let a few disgruntled customers have a ducat with you, hmm? GTFM savvy?

Aye gaffer. Aye. He'd work good. He'd do his very best and he wouldn't let them down. Pay his way. He didn't want to go to the ken, didn't want. Didn't want.

Would you like to work in the ken tonight chavi? Let the chesters have you, pretty little thing like you always brings in the dinari. Maybe we'll send you to the bunkhouse, let the real earners relax a bit? That what you aiming for chavi? Sucking cocks at the bunkhouse?

No no no no nonononononononono. He didn't. He'd be good. He'd play it good in the cage tonight. He'd sit and be miserable and let people look at him, let them touch him through the bars when they pay the extra. Let them tug on his hair and pinch his little arm, touch the flaking red patches on his skin.

His breaths came in fast and shallow, eyes wide as he stared into the darkness. He had begged for lights, but they had spoken about light sensitivity. They were locking him in the dark. He was being put back in the box and this time they weren't going to let him out. Just lock it up and throw it in the river. Right chavi? Tober mush that don't earn their way get what their mam should have given them at birth. He could feel the stiffness of the neck brace as he tried to turn, his movements slow and sluggish, his limbs were so heavy he had to drag them across the sheets like a limp corpse.

He called Neah in his mind but there was no answer. Hadn't been an answer for hours. Where was he? He couldn't hear him, couldn't feel him in his mind. Neah? Neah? He almost sobbed at the silence.

"Breath." He gave a terrified look towards the doorway, where a shadow lurked. "Breath, deep and slow. In Out, do it."

Even as he tried the air vacuumed into his lungs clogged until he was gagging on it. When his vision blurred, when the nausea gurgled up in him, the man was beside him, holding his shoulders to keep him from falling off the bed as he was violently, hideously ill.

"Fuck kid, I thought they weren't feeding you yet." He looked up through the tears to see Cross leaning over the bed to hold him. "Lie down, stop fighting the drugs and go to sleep. You're only hurting yourself." Allen couldn't even reply, simply slid spiritless into oblivion. Cross was here, he wasn't alone now. The Tober Omi wasn't coming for him. He was safe. Not like the car crash.

No, not as bad as the car, nothing was bad as the car.

When he woke again it was as though from a long horrible illness. Noone was in the room, had he imagined Cross? His body was still heavy and tender and difficult to move. Allen rubbed absently at the scar on his chest, twinging with the sharp, sweet, phantom pain of a severe injury too agonizing to be felt. Shock, they had called it. The body protecting itself from its own defenses.

He had felt it plenty in the weeks that followed the accident, though that too had been a kind of shock, Between the painkillers and the depression, he had felt very little that first few days. Yet, he had still felt. The loss that was so impossible to speak of, to describe, the terror that came from the very marrow of his bones. The cold doctors who informed him he was now all alone in the world again, that they had notified the authorities and he'd be taken to a home. He would be cared for, they assured in their detached manner. He knew what came with homes. He remembered the circus, remembered what happened to cute little chavi all alone in the world.

Only Mana had kept him safe from that as they traveled, as they worked their way across the island countries, sometimes with a caravan, often alone. Their two man bill. Where they never had a chip with a Gaffer, never had to think about scarping when they didn't make enough. Never had to worry about being sent to the innocuous tent where cake eaters paid to have their time with you.

Mana protected him, cared for him, never asked more from him then he could give. He had never been loved as Mana had loved him.

And he never hated as he hated that black hearted Order for taking him away.

They would pay for that, he promised himself, promised Mana every Christmas when he laid his offerings at the base of that simple stone marker. They would all pay.

They had to.

Weak and tired and trying so hard not to melt into a quivering panic ridden mess, they would just come back with more drugs, the dark was too oppressive, the memories too close to the surface. He needed a moment. He only needed a moment alone, only a moment, within his mind. And so only for a moment he turned his face into the pillow.

And wept.

Kanda found him like that, the quiet, private sounds of his grief sobbed into the soft cotton. Striding purposefully into the room fully intending to break the brat out of his little shell and drag him down to the parking lot. He felt, and it was ridiculous as he had seen so many people cry in his lifetime, but he felt immensely uncomfortable in this unexpected situation. He wasn't the kind to be brought up short be tears, and he wasn't going to offer any words of comfort or sympathy, he didn't think he had any anyway. But he could give him the benefit of not being an intruder into his moment of heartache. With a quiet breath he stepped back out into the hall, leaned against the door, and watched the activity of the hospital begin to shift and morph from night to day.

Hadn't he just spent the past several hours discovering that under the expensive cloths and polished manners were scars?


Cross had been there, that was real at least, and had in a moment of benevolence that made Allen's heart weep, he was still sane enough to know it was the drugs, snuck Timcampy into the room in his ever present coat. He could feel the silky ball of blonde as he shifted, curled up in the junction of his shoulder and scenting heavily enough that Allen could smell him over the chemicals.

It was comforting. Though he knew if the poor thing didn't calm down soon the whole room would smell of animal musk. He didn't mind.

Cross knew how much Tim meant to him, since the day he had handed the white joey to him years ago, hardly bigger than his thumb and crabbing loud enough to terrify him. It had taken weeks of patience and boxes of Band-Aids for the chew marks, but they had bonded, and here they were inseparable.

He forced himself to sit up; Tim gave a sound of complaint and gripped with his sharp claws onto the bare skin of his shoulder. Allen would have reached for him, but his prosthetic was missing and he needed his long arm to hold himself upright, surveying the room. It was an ordinary looking hospital room, private single bed. A counter with sink, drawers, and cupboard, there was a curtain to the side of the sink that possibly led to a toilet. A window with its blinds drawn, he could see from the lines between the blades that it was still dark out. His bed was the typical convertible gurney, set in a slight incline to support his head, with an adjustable tray that would swing around to him or out of the way. Above him was an ancient bulky black TV suspended with metal frame. His finger was clamped and an IV dripped into him, the bandage was looking worn and the skin around it looked bruised, not flushed yet though, the attack would come later.

There were two hard plastic chairs with a stingy carpet to give the illusion of a cushion on its bowled seat, one of which had a neatly folded outfit and shoes. Someone had cleaned up the vomit, the scent of not-quite-cat-litter and cleaner still clung to the air.

On the attached tray to the left of the bed beside a plastic cup of water with a yellow bendy straw sat a toiletry kit and a small rectangular case of worn calf skin leather. The edges were frayed, the once yellow stitching was blackened with grime and coming loose, but it was cleaned and oiled and as sturdy as the day it was made, and within its confines were the most precious things he had ever owned. He sat up fully, tucked the pillow behind him, and swung the table around to his front. Picking up the little remote he adjusted the bed to his liking and opened the latch, tapping the case in his hand. Out slid a beautifully detailed antique deck of playing cards.

He thumbed the cards into his palm, felt the texture of the hand painted images on the stiff paper. They were a simple design, created in the days when railroad lines were just being laid and the casinos consisted of a few men traveling with the workers from place to place.

With a deep breath and the calming presence of Timcanpy running in an incomprehensible manner all over the bed, he began the therapeutic action of shuffling and dealing.


Officer Mont and his partner stepped off the elevator with a casual air. So far their day had been going fairly well, beginning with a simple follow up with the victim of an assault. It wasn't exactly an unusual occurrence for events like yesterday's relay to produce various assault charges or hospitalizations. Though admittedly this particular incident was abnormal enough to have become an amusement among the members in his unit.

They passed the center ring and turned down the hallway that led to the patient's rooms with a nod to the attendants working at the consoles. Someone, Mont saw, was standing at Allen Walker's door.

"Well looky here, hey detective, what are you doing here?" LaForteza sidled up to the Asian man leaning casually against the door to their victim's room. "I didn't realize our powdery headcase needed a guard."

Mont saw the flash of intent in the slanted blue eyes. LaForteza was a good cop, a bit of a douche but he was young enough, green enough, to get away with it. For now. He'd mellow, they always did or they didn't last. Still, the kid should know to tell the difference between a sentry at rest and a poised snake.

"Back for a follow up Officers?" Kanda addressed them.

"Of course, see that's what we do in an assault. We couldn't get his statement before, what with all the goings on, but now we're told he's awake and lucid." He rubbed his nose between his thumb and forefinger, glanced away, then back, big cocky smile still in place. "Seems to me an esteemed Detective such as yourself, Yu Kanda of the 107 precinct, New York, would have more important things to do than check up on a minor assault you didn't find important enough to stick around for yesterday."

"He's a friend. I'm just visiting." He didn't blink those cold flat eyes. "Any reason you decided to check on my past employment, Officer?"

"A friend huh?" He tucked his hands under his armpits. "Yeah, I believe that. See, I'm wondering why someone would transfer from a cushy job in homicide up in the big apple to play Sherlock holms here in our citrus city." He stepped up into Kanda's face. "See when an odd looking foreign kid is attacked, unprovoked, by some random homeless guy? Gets me thinking. Especially when we can't pull dick together on him and the officer on scene goes off the grid for hours afterword."

"My teammate went down yesterday, I told you." Kanda's hard eyes turned sharp and lethal. "Contact my superior if you want, I honestly don't know why you couldn't put together any information on him. Seems to me that's a personal incompetency."

"Oh?" His face twitched. "You think so?"

"Hadit." Mont stepped up to the two of them. "Detective, is he awake?"

Kanda blinked his emotionless stare and turned his attention to the partner, dismissing LaForteza as a non-threat. From the narrowing of the younger officer's eyes this did not sit well with him. "The nurse came out ten minutes ago, said he was taking a shower."

"And you just decided to step out and, what, give him privacy?" LaForteza asked.

"He hasn't seen me yet, he was…sleeping when I arrived." Kanda stepped aside just a fraction, a lean and shift, and before they could go in knocked firmly on the door. More to take control then alert the Moyashi of their arrival. They may have the assault, but the kid was his. He made sure he was the first in the door.

Allen was sitting up in his bed when they entered, his eyes registered confusion, not displeased but certainly surprised. His hair was swept back, still damp from the shower, giving an unobstructed view of his face. There was strain in the corners of those shadowed eyes and the line of his mouth, but every bruise and blemish, the scar, was expertly brushed away beneath cosmetics. He was dressed in a needlessly formal long sleeved blouse pressed to knife sharp seams with red cord tying the collar closed in a perfect knot. He must be wearing a prosthetic, as his arms were both of average length. In his hands were a deck of cards; dealt out onto the tray was apparently a very interesting invisible poker game. "Enjoy your nap?" He sneered automatically, standing straight as a soldier in the doorway barring the others from entering.

"Kanda! How nice, did you come to see how I was? That's very kind of you." He said, while in his mind he was running through possibilities like mad. He was, according to the note Cross left in his bag, listed under a fake name. No one should know he was here, he was brought in by two officers after being attacked in the park, who attacked him and why was still being discovered. Why was Kanda here? How did the Order find him? He gathered the cards, shuffled, and began to deal for three onto the meal tray.

Kanda noted the faint musky smell, like an animal, and felt a bit of the tension in his shoulders ease just a fraction. It didn't smell too much like hospital in here. "When I brought you in yesterday I figured it was serious, and here you are lounging around playing cards." He sidled in, registering the not quite smothered surprise of the other. "Guess I could have just left you and you'd been fine. I'll remember that next time you faint from terror."

"I didn't faint." Allen couldn't help but snap. "I got a concussion and passed out." He didn't even register the two others in the doorway.

"Yeah right. Next time one of your ex-boyfriends tries to off you, do me a favor and die somewhere I'm not obligated to rescue your sorry ass." He smirked at the pursed lipped albino. "Or at least let me buy my shit first, I'm out of tea."

"How terrible." He felt the anger snap through him, like a rubber band winged from a mischievous schoolboy's idle fingers. He caught it, wrestled and smothered it until it lay still just beneath his skin, and smiled pleasantly. A man who couldn't control his temper had no control over the situation, or his life. "I'll make sure to not be such a hassle should I ever again be viscously attacked so as not to inconvenience you." He lost his concentration on the game and couldn't remember which hand had what, nearly swore, and snatched up the cards to shuffle again.

"Mr. Walker?" LaForteza was tired of lurking in the entrance and strode forward before Kanda could retort, the albino's head turned to him quick as a finger snap, eyes wide and startled. "I'm Officer LaForteza, My Partner Officer Mont, we're here to ask you a few questions about the assault yesterday."

Officer Mont was a gigantic man, he had to duck when he entered the doorway, with skin black as charred tree bark after a ravaging fire. His eyes and firmed mouth suggested he himself may have witnessed just what damage that blaze had done.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Officers." Allen offered his hand, watched the paper-white skin be swallowed in the man's dark grip. For all the bigness and strength of it, the Officer held it gentle as a china doll. He was used to large men, Marie and his cousin Skin Bolic were both mountains, and both treated him as if he would shatter to billions under the slightest pressure like a blown glass figurine.

In this case, he felt it.

LaForteza was a different type, his shake was firm and quick, Allen had to stretch his fingers afterword. The gentleman Mana's death had created urged him to smile in polite greeting as the uniformed officer eased a hip onto the bed.

He was attractive in an average way, brown and brown Hispanic, the black uniform and utility belt adding a bulk to his athletic form. His smile was friendly, but just a little too familiar, too sure of his charm and welcome. Allen imagined he worked well with kids, but pissed anyone over the age of ten way the hell off.

"So can you remember anything from yesterday, about what happened?"

Kanda touched the pads of his fingers to his shoulder, a reserved comforting gesture, one so unnatural to the image the Asian man presented that Allen gave a long blink before he could acknowledge it. "I.. I don't remember… no. I'm very sorry."

"Well, that's okay, you can just tell us what you do. The last thing you can recall?"

"The last thing? Well, I don't know." He tucked a tuft of drying hair that had fallen down into his vision behind his ear "It's hard, you know. Remembering the last thing you remember? Have you ever actually tried that?"

"Honestly? I've never had memory loss, but just try anything you can."

"Perhaps," Officer Mont spoke in his pleasant rumble, "you can start with the beginning of your day, and go forward?"

"Well, yesterday is.. well I don't know. It's like going to sleep and waking up and someone says you slept through the day. It's just not there, and it's hard to really adjust to the fact that a whole day just…doesn't exist to me. I remember that I was supposed to go to the Doctor's office Sunday. I think, well I'm not sure but I think I remember getting up. I work at nights, so I sleep during the morning. But the doctor says I could be projecting, because I have a pretty usual morning routine."

"Well could you try running through your morning routine? Maybe it'll help."

"I've been doing it so much this morning I hardly have to try. I go to sleep at dawn, every morning. So when I wake just depends on when dawn comes, I usually sleep for five to six hours, I take glucose supplements so I don't have sugar attacks at night, but I keep a special vitamin water by my bed with corn starch and other things in case I do have an incident." He twisted his fingers in his lap, he didn't want to mention the nightmares he so rarely remembered, didn't want to mention Neah who was so silent in his mind. "I, after I wake I drink the water to curb any attack and take a bath, because of my psoriasis I have to take very special care of my skin. Because of my heart condition there are a lot of treatments I can't take, and my sun sensitivity adds another complication. Then I make breakfast, talk with my agent who lives with me, and begin work. I know it seems odd, but I rarely leave my apartment."

"What type of work do you do?"

"That's irrelevant." Kanda snapped.

He saw the steel glance the young officer sent over his shoulder and felt Kanda's presence, like a guard, at his side. "I'll be the judge of what's relevant and not."

"You have the guy, why not just ask him why he did it?"

"How I conduct my investigation is none of your concern, Detective." His glare edged into a smirk. "Perhaps you should wait outside."

"Like hell I'm-"

"Kanda." Allen sighed the name, felt the man stiffen, saw LaForteza's mouth twitch in triumph as he snapped his mouth shut and scowled. So that was what it was... Well he couldn't say he didn't appreciate the territorial possessiveness, he lifted his hand, just to fuck with them, and placed it over the one barely grazing his arm. Felt the fingers twitch at the contact, and press down more firmly. He suddenly realized he still smelled of his shower and wondered if Kanda noticed. "Officer, I'd appreciate it if my friend could stay."

Mont answered before his partner could make an ass of himself. "Of course."

Allen beamed in gratitude and took a breath. "I remember going to sleep at dawn yesterday, after doing some work, and waking up here. That's all."

"Do you recognize this man?" Mont took out a picture and Allen was staring into the dark face of an Indian. Kanda saw they had taken the cap off for the mug shot and noted the peculiar tattoo across his forehead, like eyes.

Allen genuinely did not recognize this man. "No, I'm sorry. I don't know him."

"Never seen him around? At the park, or maybe near your house or workplace?"

"No, I work mostly from home. To answer your earlier question I'm a composer, I write songs and musical scores for people. Mostly catchy jingles for commercials, though I do get jobs for background soundtracks in television and movies sometimes. I'm not exactly famous, but I make enough to live comfortably."

"Could he maybe have been a fan, or a colleague? Someone who maybe had a grudge against you?"

"That would be hard, as I work under a pen name. My uncle's name actually, Neah Walker, very few people have ever actually met me."

"I see, have you received any threats? Anyone who was maybe hassling you about anything?"

"Officer, this is music. It's nothing but passion and egos, I'd be surprised if someone didn't threaten to string me up with piano wire. My agent alone threatens me every Thursday." He laughed softly with a shake of his head. "No, even if any of them were serious threats, I'm too far down the totem to bother with, and too well hidden to find. My Uncle, you see, has been dead for thirty years. I'm just one of many ghost writers."

"I see, still, I'll need names of the people who you work with."

"Officer, is it really necessary? It seems to me to be a random act. Many homeless are mentally disturbed with nowhere else to go and my…well I tend to provoke certain reactions in people."

"This man is a British citizen." LaForteza tapped the picture, caught the look in those silver eyes. "Several days ago he suddenly had a greencard, despite no paperwork being filled out, and boarded a plane and came here. Two days after he landed he attacks you, from the description he did it with full intent to cause serious harm."

"Sometimes," Mont spoke up, "people hide their intentions. Sometimes what we consider insignificant is, to another, a very serious matter. You can never really know what another person's intent is." He gave the young man a sad smile. "I'm sorry, but there's a chance that someone, someone you know, may be trying to kill you."

"I see." Allen glanced at Kanda when the grip on his shoulder tightened. His face was impassive, but his eyes were hard and dangerous. How odd, was all he could think, and he wished he remembered yesterday so he could understand if this change was as sudden as it felt, or if something happened between them. The last he remembered of the man was at Jerry's restaurant, scowling and walking away. "Yes I'll…I'll write what I can down. My Agent will know more."

"Thankyou." LaForteza said, and when Allen had scribbled everything he could down on the pad of papers passed to him he took it and tucked it into his pocket, pulled out a card. "If you remember anything, anything at all. Call me."

"Yes Officer, I will." And they were gone, and Allen was alone with Kanda.

"Asshole." Kanda spat, throwing himself down in a plastic chair.

"Why do you say that?" He tucked the card into his toiletry case and picked Tim up from his lap, cradled him close. "They both seemed nice."

"How do you survive with such crap judge of character?" he scoffed. "The bastard is nothing but an arrogant bruiser, throwing his weight around." He looked at Allen. "So, tell me what you know."

"About what exactly?"

"About the freak that almost smeared your tiny brain all over the concrete."

Allen made tunnels with his hands and let Tim run through them, "I honestly don't know anything. I wasn't holding back, or lying to them. I don't remember anything at all from yesterday, and I don't recognize that man."

"And you have no idea why anyone would want to hurt you?"

"I…" His eyes flickered, broke contact to watch the pale furry animal weave between his hands in a dance. "No, honestly I don't."

A secret, he'd dig it up, but for now Kanda categorized it in his mental notes and let the subject drop. The silence lengthened, he rested his chin on his fist and watched as the rodent sized creature scampered up the stark white sleeve to crouch at the shoulder, shift its haunches, and launch itself at the curtains, arms and legs extended to reveal a connecting web of fur and skin, long tail out. It looked like a tiny, fuzzy kite.

Allen laughed when it latched onto the curtain and scuttled to the very top to perch in the folds and bark. "Yes, I saw you. Very impressive." Then once again began to gather all his cards to shuffle. "So, is there a reason you're still here? You don't look particularly happy to be." Kanda's response was to tsk and scowl. "Well, might I ask what you meant earlier? When you said you brought me in?"

"What, not clear enough for your little brain?"

"Oh don't be an ass. I don't have any memory of yesterday at all and I was told those two cops brought me in."

"As if! You would have died from brain damage in the van while that idiot tried to get that damn woman's number." On certain men, Allen realized, a sneer was not at all unattractive. "Your weak ass was attacked, I brought you here. Clear now?"

Allen's soft smile slanted, "Tell me, do you have to work particularly hard at being a bastard or does it just come naturally?" Kanda shrugged. "I see. Well thank you for that lengthy recounting of events." He bat his lashes. "It's all ever so clear now."

"Fuck you."

"Well if you want, but do lock the door first."

Something hit him on the head, and he looked startled at the man sitting scowling at the door as Tim clung to his shirt where he fell. "Did, did you just throw Timcanpy at me?"

"che." Quick as a viper he had a fist of Kanda's hair, tugging him close. "Chikusho! Let go of me you fucking bastard, I will fucking stab you in the fucking face."

"You don't throw my pet." He snarled eyes slits of fury. "I don't care what the fuck youtube videos say you can do with gliders, you don't throw my fucking pet."

"Kutabare Ama," he grabbed Allen by the wrists and twisted, but instead of freedom he got harsher pulling for his efforts. "Mukatsuku, koro shite yaru!"

"Sonna koto shitta koto ja nai. You. Don't. Throw. My. Pet."

"Alright! FUCK!" when he was released he attempted to throw a punch but his fist was caught with the stupid prosthetic hand.

"Ah ah, be a good boy and sit the fuck down." Allen smiled sweet as syrup.

"Baka na gaijin."

"As you so eloquently put it two weeks ago, you're a foreigner too. So, really, who does that apply to?"

"Ookiosewada." He sneered.

Allen chose to not respond to that, and instead continued his shuffling.

The cards slid through fingers like liquid, Kanda would have been a little impressed with the grace the pale man could maneuver and arrange them, if he wasn't seething, mumbling things like 'Shinezu buso kuso' and 'Busaiku pakimono." Which Allen heard and understood, but refused to answer.

Kanda began to breath, tugging at his skewed hair, a huge fucking mess, not even bothering to swallow or mutter the various things he felt at various points to say, openly just spitting them out. "Hine daikon, Tameguchi kitten ja ney o. Do digata ni kazana ho akeruzou, ki-sama o koroso."

"Are you finished yet? You're fogging up the room with all your intense hatred."

"Shinde Kudesai."

"Have you become completely incapable of switching languages, or do you honestly think I can't understand everything you're saying, because I'll let you know. I speak it perfectly well," he shrugged, "most dialects."

"Fuck you." Kanda snarled. "I remember you speaking it perfectly fine yesterday."

"Oh?" Allen blinked at him. "So…well okay. Why were we speaking Japanese yesterday?"

"The fuck were we speaking it now for?"

"So we were…" he laughed suddenly. "Is this going to be a pattern with us, arguing like this?"

"Who the fuck cares?" he finally just tugged the damn hairband out and started finger combing his tangled hair.

"What brilliant wordplay you have, you must charm all the ladies."

"As if."

Once again the silence stretched on and okay, so this wasn't exactly going the way he, half assed, planned. He had allowed that idiot of a cop to put his back up, and fuck but he hated hospitals, and then the henjin had to go and pull his hair. Fucking kuso atama. So, step back, breathe, put it all away and do the job. Even if he wanted to storm out and never come back. Fucking bitchy little ass-white bastard freak.

Breath. Do the job.

"You got quick hands." He finally managed after several minutes and when he didn't think he'd get a strange look, it seemed like the act of shuffling smoothed the Moyashi's feathers. It was the only observation he could think of that didn't want to come out as an irritated snap. He resisted adding 'ama' to the end, but it still echoed in his head.

"It helps me think." Allen said, dealing out a quick five card stud for his imaginary players. "Would you like to play?" He then added.

Kanda leaned over the side of the bed to reach the table, his hair sliding across one shoulder. "I'm not much for games." He tipped one of the facedown cards up with his thumb and spied the value. "I know bridge, but I didn't come here to embarrass myself over a handful of cards."

"Right, just came to insult me and milk your hero status? If you're expecting a thank-you you probably should have waited for it before you pissed me off."

"I came here to," he stopped, breathed, and swallowed his insult. Sat back. "I came to check up on you."

"Right. Did Lenalee make you?"

"No." Allen stopped the game and stared at him with a soft expectant smile. He met it for a few minutes, then turned towards the door with a huff of irritation, 'just spit it out. It won't choke you.' "Fuck, I brought you here didn't I? I came to see if you survived the night." He could not believe he just said that. Fucking shit what the hell was this, some cheesy romance novel? He sucked in a slow breath through his nose, do the job. Just do the job. If he had to say corny shit like that to stick close to the asshole fine, suck it up, do it, and kill all witnesses.

"Really?" Allen's smile shrank to a neutral line as he studied Kanda's profile, the man refusing to meet his eyes. He felt a pleased little prickling in his gut and a corner of his mouth twitched, wanting to turn up. Brushing it all aside he curved his lips in a grateful crescent, "Thank you," he slathered honey over the appreciation. Kanda turned back to him, eyes narrowed, mouth scowling. Allen tucked his hair behind his ear and swept his eyes back down to his game in a practiced subtly submissive gesture that gave his face a feminine angle and continued his game.

"Show it to me."

Allen blinked back up at him. "What?"

His companion held out a hand. "You're arm. Let me see it."

Allen instinctively clutched at the forearm of his prosthetic, keeping it close. "Why would you want to… I mean, I have no injuries on my arms."

Kanda gave him an annoyed look. "I saw the damn thing yesterday Moyashi, so shut up and hand it over."

"Mo- who's a bea-"

"Beansprout, yes. You said that yesterday too." He took the prosthetic in his hands and guided it away from the albino's torso until it was outstretched towards him, undoing the buttons at the bottom and pushing it up, exposing purple colored 'skin'. "It moves differently from yesterday." He pulled the glove off.

"D-does it?" Suddenly this close Allen had no choice but to acknowledge the attraction that was both thrilling, dangerous and, he told himself, perfectly natural. He wouldn't go so far as to say it was harmless, not with the ties to the Order and the past twenty minutes of arguing, but so long as the electric tension between them stayed a humming undercurrent he saw no reason to push the man away. "I.. usually wear a different one to the doctor's office, easier to remove if I have the need."

The other one was hard plastic with a rubber skin colored sleeve, mechanical workings visible at the joints. This one's cosmetic covering was of pliable latex, like warm skin beneath his fingers. Kanda turned the hand over, palm up. Traced the ridges that allowed for free movement. It was the same purple of the Tribal tattoos he had seen covering the infant-like arm last night, he imagined the coloring helps preserve the natural appearance? The sleeve only rolled to the elbow.

The length of his family's advancement in the fields of science and mechanics were proved upon his skin, as Allen could feel through the connections every brush of fingertips across his palm. He turned his face away and breathed for a moment, feeling slightly dizzy, his palm seemed to vibrate under the skim of those fingers. When he glanced back it was to be pierced by slanted blue eyes so deep they were almost black.

Kanda had seen him turn away out of his peripheral, and had glanced up in time for him to look back. Glass clear eyes gazed down at him with a strange emotion, and he felt something, a force in his gut not quite powerful enough for a punch, but stronger than a tug. He stroked a thumb across the palm of the prosthetic, the change in the grey eyes was subtle, darkened, intensified in the moment; pupil expanding in one, up close it gave him a slightly cross-eyed appearance. 'The scar would have distracted from it,' he thought as he held the silver stare, if was visible.'

He had a sudden vision, an image in his mind so clear he mistook it a moment for one of his illusions. An image of them fighting, sparing, blocking, counteracting, knock out drag out no holds barred, throwing each-other off balance and when one of them pinned the other... his breath hitched. He released the hand and sat back, ramrod spined, in his chair. It was a sexy, perilous thought that aroused more than his competitive interest, and he squashed it under the heel of his control like the disgusting parasite it was.

"Seeing as you don't look to be dying anytime soon." he said as those distracting eyes blinked, "I'll just go do some of that pesky crime fighting everyone is always yelling at me about." He stood, felt his hair brush his neck and arms and swore. Digging his hair tie back out of his pocket, but as he gathered it all up and wound it around the tail, it snapped.

His swears were fierce, hot, and Asian.

Allen could do nothing but laugh.

When he could finally settle and breathe, under the dark smoldering glare of one pissed of Japanese detective, he tugged at the knot of his necktie. "You know Kanda," he ran the cord through his fingers, smoothing any winds or folds, "there are only certain lengths anything can go before it snaps under the pressure."

"Yeah yeah, save your cultured British opinions for someone who'll actually listen." He turned to leave; Allen caught his wrist, pointed his index finger down and circled it. Kanda rolled his eyes and scoffed, but conceded and sat on the bed.

With a laugh Allen bit the ribbon and gathered all that dark hair in his hands.

It was an odd situation, his heart thundered in his ears and every sense was on high alert as if he was in the midst of a great battle. He breathed slow and deep through his nose, curled damp hands against his thighs, and refused to acknowledge the raised hairs on his arm or the adrenaline in his blood.

Allen was a warm, steady presence at his back as he tied the ribbon, hands brushing through his hair, skimming the top of his head, and every pulse point in his body throbbed. A sudden switch in the workings of his mind left him baffled and slightly off balance, he imagined what it would be like to have those deft, clever fingers somewhere other than his hair. If he turned, if he just angled his head up and they were face to face...

Allen finished and with hands settling heavy on his broad shoulders was leaning over him, up on his knees, a sassy grin on his lips as if he knew exactly what the Asian man had been thinking.

Kanda took a calming breath and all but tasted whatever it was Allen used on his slim pale body to get him to smell like a wholesome breakfast.

Allen hadn't expected to see the spark of sexuality in those dark, seemingly emotionless eyes, but was pleased by it, even if he had enough makeup on his face to crack if he smiled too wide.

"You know Kanda, I've been thinking about doing something for near two weeks now." he smiled wider at the guarded uneasiness in those slanted blue eyes. "Might as well get it out of my system." and faster, shockingly faster than Kanda could counteract Allen coiled the dark hair in his hand like a rope, yanked his head back, and kissed him.

Kanda's lips opened in shocked protest, his mind went blank, his mouth filled with tongue and taste and passion and for a breathless dizzying moment fire erupted inside him and swept through his blood like lava.

"Oh, I'm interrupting." a voice deadpanned from the doorway.

Allen broke away and looked up, irritation all over his face, at his former guardian and mentor Cross Marian. "What perfect timing, do you just smell pheromones like beasts?"

Kanda embarrassed himself by staggering away, all but running out the door and down to his car. The sticky heat of the outside slapped him like a damp rag and he had to take a gulp of air to find his breath. So used to the chill of the hospital. Only when he was unlocking the door with shaky, boneless hands did the clarity of what happened slam into him, and with it a black fury that rioted through his system.


"That didn't take you long at all," Cross watched the man bolt with an amused brow raised, "that BookMan apprentice made him sound a bit more challenging."

Allen thought so too, having expected anger, rejection, or simply no response at all. Instead he got to see a very interesting reaction to a very simple pleasure. He cradled his chin in his palm in contemplation at the empty doorway. "Please, if he wasn't being forced here by the Order he'd have left several times over and never come back." Was there anything so endearing as watching a strong man fumble?

"Heh, I don't know about that." Allen blinked from his musings and looked up at Cross, holding a small tablet computer the size of a thin chindren's book. "Fii left you a little security camera when he came in last night." He reclined in the seat Kanda had occupied moments ago. "I switched the memory card when I stopped by earlier, you might want to see something."

Allen took the computer and settled back onto the bed.

Outside the room a tall handsome man with dark hair curling past his shoulders flirted with the nurses at the console station and watched his brutishly large relative storm after a fleeing Asian.


Kanda glowered over the opened hood of his beat up little car, eyes dark as onyx and temperament positively rancid.

As if being assaulted by a deformed albino hospital patient wasn't absolutely horrible enough, and it was, it so was, his car had decided it couldn't take the embarrassment of being driven by someone who had been unable to deflect a sad sloppy inexperienced and all around nauseating excuse of a kiss from a deformed albino hospital patient suffering brain trauma which was the ONLYreason he hadn't kicked that fuckers brain in, and killed itself. In the middle of interstate four.

Fucking perfect.

He stared angrily, not uselessly and certainly not helplessly, into the complex entanglement of grime covered wires and tubes and tank looking apparatuses he was sure did something important. He recognized the battery, it was all he recognized, as it was the rectangular thing he paid someone to change for him after having angrily stared at a wall of multiple different sizes and brands and voltages, again not useless or helplessly, or stupid which is what he always felt around the contents that made vehicles run, before grabbing the nearest wage earner by the collar.

It did not help that he was still stewing, how could he not be when his person had been unforgivably violated by such a disgusting creature, over the confusing actions of Allen Walker.

He liked knowing what he was up against, be it a kendo opponent, suspect, diabolical matrix monster looking mesh of machinery hidden beneath his hood, or polished looking assholes with intimacy issues. So far Allen had been as much an entangled mystery as the workings of his car. Who was he? The quick tongued, god why did that thought make his insides jolt, hellfire with the hard mouth and sharp eyes, the delicate refined doll who had pinked tea-rose at Lavi and Daisya's teasing, or the vulnerable child with the terrified eyes that haunted him through the night in a way the gruesome image his colleague's body hadn't?

He moistened his lips and scowled when he discovered a foreign taste there.

And so what if he had, for a brief moment, considered the softness of lips, it didn't give anyone the right to just kiss him. He considered murdering all kinds if people on a daily basis, he didn't expect anybody to go around killing them for him. It just meant he was human, he had thoughts like everyone else, he simply controlled them, not going around throwing themselves at the nearest uninterested person, especially ones they barely knew and ...

He braced his hands on the car and breathed.

Even he could tell this was affecting him a little too much.

And if it was, well it was just human nature, it was... Chemistry... It wasn't going to go anywhere.

It couldn't.

Because if he let it, it could ruin everything. Every file and note he had scraped up last night indicated Allen Walker discarded his lovers, and he was not going to be discarded, by anyone, especially not a mark.

And he was not thinking about sex with that scrawny little...

Breath in, hold, breath out.

The ache in his belly was not desire, not hunger, but stress, he was probably getting an ulcer, he had a pretty stressful few days.

Hell, he had a pretty stressful life.


Skin Bolic watched from the overpass as the angry Black Order soldier yelled on his phone at who he assumed was a tow truck or roadside service of some kind. He recognized the man from the security video, standing over Allen's bed, taking pictures of him, touching him.

He shifted his piñacolada sucker from one side of his mouth to the other, blue eyes darkening with intent.

It had been a while since he had an Order member's blood on his hands, hot and wet and sticky. Tyki and the twins seemed to have all the fun these days, last night's little spy incident attesting to that, and seeing one so solitary and alone like this called to his instincts, his memory, his rage. He hadn't liked the way the man had stormed out of his little cousin's hospital room, or the raging oaths promised out in the parking lot, and had decided to follow him, just to be sure he wasn't planning anything funny. After all, what was an Order member doing in the room anyway, Allen was in under a fake name, and from what their intel described the Order had no idea where he was, and were going nuts because of it.

He had never agreed with the Earl's decision to place him out as bait on a hook. He and Road and Cyril had argued and protested, but in the end you do not question the Earl.

One does not presume to question.

The knowledge that their sweet little fourteenth was always in the crosshairs of the Order stuck in his craw like black licorice jellybeans, tainting everything with its bitterness.

It wasn't that he didn't know how to get rid of a body either, unlike Tyki who left them where they lay, or JasDevi who dumped them wherever they could get away with it, or Cyril who liked to stage them in interesting storytelling ways, he knew how to make a person vanish. People disappeared in the Bayou all the time, the marsh and the mist, poisonous snakes, alligators cutting a line through the waters with whispers for ripples, Florida wasn't all that different from the waters he called home.


"Don't toke in here, it's a bloody hospital for Christ's sake."

"So, open a window."

"I hate you so much." Allen grumbled, but it was halfhearted, fingers curled around the tablet.

Tyki slapped a hand on Cross' shoulder and pushed him towards the window. "We'll just sit over here," He cracked it open and reclined back against it, taking a drag as he watched his little cousin. Allen Walker wasn't the kind to let his emotions show, he had a nasty little habit of slathering on that creamy little smile to cover whatever he was feeling at any given moment. Not to say reactions couldn't be drawn out of him, one merely had to work a little at it.

So seeing him staring down at the thin pocket computer with a sweet little curve of the lips should have indicated he was hiding something, until he ran a finger down the dark line the Order member cut against the glow of the machines, standing over him, leaning down to him. He reached up to place the pads of fingers against the hidden scar marring his cheek, slowly, almost dreamily, as he watched the Asian man do the same. 'whoops.' Tyki thought to himself, 'I hope that's not what I think it is.'

"What's you're take on him Gorato?" He asked and Allen blinked dreamy eyes up at him.

With a sigh that was a little tired, a little regretful, and just a fraction schoolgirl-crush he set the tablet aside. "Proud, defiant, aloof, and absolutely delicious but most things are when you can't have them."

"Why not?."

Allen barked out an uncharacteristic laugh, one that reminded Cross of an unsympathetic, unapologetic child with hard eyes and bruises on his dirt smudged face. "Oh yes, let's complicate matters with useless entanglements."

Tyki felt a muscle tick. Allen Walker rarely made life easy for anyone, polite refinement or no. "Nasty word, entanglement." he blew smoke out the window. "Best to have someone loyal to you. Suman was a good pick, but his wants are with his family. Best to get him by the dick and keep his everything focused on you."

"And you think Kanda is the best choice?" Allen gave him an amused incredulous look.

"He came to the hospital." Tyki indicated with his cigarette, the wispy tail of smoke danced like a bespelled snake. "Didn't have to, could have dropped you off and been done with it. But he came, and watched you sleep." he took a drag. "Man like that, he doesn't watch his enemies sleep unless he plans to smother them."

Allen pictured Kanda in his hospital room, surly, bad tempered, go-to-hell Kanda with his dark, angry eyes, standing beside his bed, fingers tracing the hideous scar. Just like in the video.

"You like him."

"He's pleasing enough. I'd have to decide if it's worth it to keep him close, or make use of him and be done with it,"


He said "Very" with that same wistful sigh.

"You can't work together without thinking of fucking him," Cross laughed, almost mocking, "but if you fuck him, you can't work."

"Oh but I so want to." Allen flopped onto the hospital bed, ignoring the doctor's order for his head. He felt fine. "Did you see him Tyki? Isn't he gorgeous?"

The Portuguese man shrugged, taking a drag from his cig, whatever they were giving the guy was making him uncharacteristically loose lipped, and just a tad silly. "More you're type then mine,"

Allen snorted a laugh that amused the two others. "Nowhere near my type and you know it, too gawky, and rude, and proud, stupid though, not brainless but so not the sharpest needle in the haystack. And he didn't even kiss me back." He pouted.

"You did kind of forced it on him." Cross grinned at Allen's stare. "I was in the doorway awhile."

"Excuses." He grumbled, and turned his gaze to the ceiling, hand roaming the bed for the soft touch of fur, he liked holding Tim when he thought. "I didn't even get to see how good a kisser he really is, I mean yeah it was fun to catch him like that but nobody wants a," He sat up when he didn't find him. "You see Tim anywhere?"

Tyki swept the room with his eyes. "It is day out. Did he go to sleep?"

"Maybe. I don't like him climbing into places in strange rooms though." He lifted his pillow and shook out his blanket. "Hey, check the curtains for me?"

The two men exchanged a look; Allen was skilled at dodging questions, but changing the subject so swiftly, or forgetting conversations…

"He's fine, he'll come out." Cross crushed his tab against the windowsill, heading back to the seat directly beside the albino, taking the clipboard off the wall as he passed. "What are they giving you exactly?"

"I don't know. They don't tell me." He huffed and threw his pillow back on the bed, flopping down on it when he couldn't find his suggie. He hated being awake in the morning. Tim was always asleep in the mornings, and the day stretched on so long, the sun wouldn't be going back down for another thirteen hours. Thirteen. What was he supposed to do drugged up in a hospital for thirteen hours?

"Looks like painkillers and sedatives. They give you any antidepressants yet?"

"God I hope not. I'm already on like, fifteen."

"You're on two; I'll make sure they know. I brought your prescription with me."

"My hero." He mumbled, face in the pillow, he sat up quickly and smiled at Tyki. "Play a game with me?" he held up the card deck.

"That's my que." He said, crushing his cigarette and moving towards the door followed by Allen's 'aww, no fun.'

"Coward." Cross hissed at him.

"You play with him down to your ceroulas and see how often you want to face him in a game." He patted the redhead's back. "I'll just go down to the cafeteria, Gorato, get you something to eat."

"The doctor says I can't eat anything after a seizure."

"It's been long enough, I'm sure you're clear for a meal."

"Okay, thanks. Can you get me a cake?"

He laughed. "Sim, com certeza I'll get you a big cake." And made his escape.


Kanda wrenched open the door to his car and threw his jacket inside. Fuck this, fuck them, fuck everyone, he was hot, he was running on no sleep, and every damn 'professional' he called to work on his car hadn't even heard of Daihatsu motors, let alone knew how to fix an `05 Copen.

He finally tracked down a foreign car auto shop that knew a damn thing about Japanese motors outside of crotch rockets and the damn asshole was so fucking chatty he damn near hung up on him with the suicidal thought that he'd fix it himself. He didn't even have a fucking tire jack he was so inept with cars, so he persevered and confirmed his location so the guy could come tow his ass out of the heat.

With a swipe of the back of his hand across his forehead, fuck bangs, he was letting his hair grow out and damn if it got in his eyes if he was living in Florida even two more weeks he was getting rid of these fucking bangs. He grabbed Daisya's stupid red ballcap with the crescent stars logo, the idiot had left in his car last week, and didn't feel a damn thing when he slapped it on his head and pulled his hair through the back.

Several tow trucks came and went, and he felt himself grow edgier and edgier with every one that didn't stop. A few would piss him off with false relief when they pulled up beside to ask if he needed a tow, no he had one, no they were coming, yes he knew it, no he didn't need their help. Fuck off. Fuck you. Fuck your truck. Go away before I shove that big fucking hook up your ass and tow you by your rectum with your own damn truck.

Then the stupid fucker finally came and he didn't know if he was going to hug him or throttle him to hell and back. He needed some god damned sleep.

"You Kanda?" When one described someone as 'scarecrow' Kanda imagined this would be their intended image. He was tall, his limbs long brittle branches attached to the husk of a sapling tree, his wrinkles layering over themselves in pleats and folds were brown and weathered as tanned leather. He tipped an ancient straw cap up and peered at him through sharp clear green eyes with a center of gold circling the pupil, cat's eyes.

"Just Kanda." He gripped the withered age spotted hand offered to him and was surprised with the strength of the handshake.

"Ain't that what I said?" He turned to look at the little car and scowled. "You d` this?"

He tucked his hands in his pockets, defensive. "It broke down."

"Corse it did. Look at it. Thing's lucky t` have limped on th`way it did. How long you had it?"

He had gotten it new as a teenager, a shiny black jewel gifted to him by the Order for being such a good little murdering bastard. He'd put the first dent in it that day and fucked the wheel alignment by misjudging a turn and jumping a curb. "Little over five years."

"An you beat it t`shit. Good for you."

Kanda felt his hackles rise and immediately liked this man more than the idiot he spoke with on the phone. "Just tow it to the fucking shop."

"Watch your mouth wit me boy, I still know how t`take down a Jap when I need to." He hooked the chain to the car and did his job. "Lucky you have me, nobody round here knows a damn thing about kei cars `specially Daihatsu's, don't exist to them `cept the shit Toyota brings over sometimes, an those ain't kei."

"Figured that out."

"Sure y'did." He hitched his belt and Kanda was sure he was going to spit any second, he was the kind of American that chewed tobacco and spit, never did though, just rubbed his nose as he studied the car. "Want me t'do the body work too? Face like that needs a good body."

Kanda looked at his car's 'face'. The Copen was one of those cars with wide headlight eyes and a smiling grill. "Just get it running, I don't need any of the other shit." He opened the door and folded himself down into the seat.

"Suit yourself. We'll talk more at the shop." The old man slammed the door for him and headed up to his truck.

Yanking the cap off and tossing it back behind the seats he gripped the wheel and watched the wrinkled asshole climb up into the cab with the sureness of a veteran. Yeah, he liked the man, and hoped he wouldn't have to be dealing with anybody else.

This day was a total waste, but then so far all of them ended up that way when he interacted with Allen Walker. He didn't think he actually accomplished anything, except to be thoroughly disgusted and molested. Well, he could at least get some sleep until they got to the shop. He grabbed his jacket to use as a pillow, jerking his hand back when a sound much like the cranking his car had sputtered as it died emitted from the folds.

"The fuck?" he pulled it all the way into his lap and shook it, causing the cackling to get worse, finaly he found a lump and held the coat up so he could see.

The sound halted and a small round head poked out of one of his pockets, covered in golden blonde fur and topped with delicate pink almond shaped ears that perked in his direction. It blinked wide black eyes at him and sniffed with a heart shaped nose, before dismissing him with a chattering grumble and disappearing back into the dark abyss.

"Great. That's just perfect." He tossed the thing back into the passenger. Nothing he could do about the damn thing now with his car halfway in the grave. He'd return it to the Moyashi when it was fixed.

Adjusting the seat he leaned back and closed his eyes. Just a few minutes rest.


Skin shifted his candy in his mouth, clacking it against his teeth as he walked. In his hand he gripped the ankle of a worker in stained grey coveralls, the limp body dragging on the floor behind him, arms extended above the corpse's head. There was the barest smudge of a blood trail smearing the concrete as they went from the man's broken face. Skin liked using his fists; he especially liked using them in a way that killed people quickly. It was a bit of a problem for him, as the faster he killed them, the less he could use his fists. This irritated him, angered him, enraged him, and he ended up beating corpses long after they needed to be.

Which tended to be messy, and was probably why he hadn't been told to kill anyone recently. Which pissed him off all the more.

With not a single grunt of effort he hauled the body up and tossed it in the back of the truck with the others. Five in the bed, three more in the shop. Not a bad day, and he was fairly proud of himself with his swiftness. He would have taken more time, drawn it out, made it sweet, but he had a goal in mind and it wouldn't do to have bodies lying around or be worn out when the Black Soldier came into the shop.

He had seen the logo on the side of the truck when it arrived, and had made his way down before they had even finished introductions. He hadn't figured on having an awful lot of time, and hadn't wasted it.

Now as he grabbed two of the last and dumped them he heard the rattle and growl of the towtruck backing up into the shop.

Well, a dead counter girl would certainly supply as a distraction when they came in.


Kanda was jarred awake when his car hit the ground, lowered from the crane on the back of the old truck, hand slapping at his side where his gun fit snug into its holster. Only when its familiar grip was against his palm did his heart stop racing and his adrenaline begin the dive back to normal levels. He scanned his surroundings, deduced that he was inside the shop, and breathed. Okay, so he had a freaky dream. He was under a lot of stress in an unfamiliar nation and he hadn't gotten any sleep in the past thirty hours. He was allowed a freaky dream.

He raised his seat and almost reached for his jacket when he remembered what dwelled within it.

Then remembered how businesses tended to look down on gun toting angry guys and picked it up again. The little rat-monkey thing made that cranking noise again when he pulled it on and he thumped the pocket. "Shut up. And don't fucking come out, the Moyashi will probably blow a gasket if I lose you." He could still feel the sting of his hair getting pulled. Nobody pulled his hair. Not a damn person did that and lived.

"Talking t`yourself now boy?" The old man shut the truck door and walked around to unhitch his car. Kanda slamed his own door and scowled at him.

"Like a senile old fool is one to talk."

"I may be old, but I ain't senile, and I sure ain't no fool." He pat the hood of the tiny convertible and smiled. "You'll see. We'll get her shiny and new again." It turned into a crooked smirk. "That is, if you can afford it."

"Told you old man, all I want is it running." He dug his hands in his pockets, felt the brush of warm fur against his knuckles and yanked them out again.

"Well see that's our little issue. I have a thing for kei cars. People here, they don't know squat shit about economy, complain about gas prices but if you go electric well you're just a god hate'n hippie an`a communist. Things like this, they make a guy feel conscious `bout his dick here, and Americans care nothing more than `bout the size of their dicks. Always have, likely always will."

"And I care why?"

"B`cause you look like a man unconcerned about what fuckers think `bout your dick, and I like your car. So I'll give you a discount. You get it all done, body, guts, th`whole shebang, and I'll do it for flat line parts and labor,"

"Awfully sweet of you, but I just want it running."

He crossed those sun spotted twigs in front of his rail thin chest. "And there's th`kicker. You don't get th`whole shebang, I don't do th`fixing." He grinned just a little maliciously. "Good luck finding another who knows `bout Daihatsu, I'm sure th`shops lining OBT would be happy to try their hand at fucking it up."

"Fuck you, it's a car. It can't be that different. There's regulations and codes for a reason."

"Boy, you don't even got the steering wheel on th`right side."

"The fuck does that got to do with anything."

"Everything," he waved as he turned from the garage towards the door to the shop. "I'll just get th`boys while you're thinking it over." They both knew he already won.

Damnit, Kanda liked that car, he was used to that car. He didn't want to have to get another car, but he didn't see why he had to get all the fucking dents and body fuckups fixed. They were fine. He kicked the section of the fender that was held on with a bungee cable hooked under the hood. The exposed headlight sat in a caved in hole like a bruised eye, the glass covering it long since busted, the grill warped and dented and the front license plate holder was missing. Florida didn't require both license plates, so he hadn't bothered with replacing it.

Okay, so it looked like his car had walked away the looser of a very bad fist fight. He jammed his hands in his pockets again, swore when he once again hit the rat. Stupid fucking thing.

"Alright, wait up you fucker." The old man paused in the doorway, smug little grin and raised eyebrow. "I'll pay for the fucking she-whatever." He poked a finger in the boney chest. "But this bitch better shine."

"We'll add paint to th`bill." He opened the door. "Yo boys! Get your asses out here an-" He never finished, as hands vised around his neck and twisted.

The crack of a snapping spinal cord was a wet crunch in Kanda's ears, and he watched an enormous mountain of muscle haul the old man up by that shattered neck and toss him to the side like a broken doll. He crumpled against the wall in a jumble of clanking fragile bones, lifeless.

Kanda was already five paces away, gun drawn and directed at the behemoth ducking under the doorway. "Freeze. Hold it right there." He shouted, and the noise rang around the garage louder than a bullet. The man advance. "Police, stay where you are, put your hands in the air."

A voice southern as sweat iced tea teased out, "Do you like sweet things?" then the man laughed, picking up a tire.

"Put your hands in the air." Kanda repeated, when he was once again ignored, the large man advancing on him with a slow taunting stride, he fired. The shot punched into Skin with a hot, fierce pain, he chucked the tire and Kanda threw himself back behind a tool crate to dodge.

Contrary to what movies and television liked to show people, bullets weren't a one kill attack unless you got them in a sweet fatal spot, they still hurt, still did endless amounts of muscle damage, but Skin shook it off. His family could heal him new; rebuilding damaged muscle was hardly a difficult procedure. Besides, the pain sharpened his instincts, his mind, his rage. He raised a trunk of an arm and gripped the handle of the garage door with a meaty fist, tugging it down to slam closed. Trapping them in the dark.

"Let's have some fun." He laughed.

Kanda had slithered and weaved around the tool kit and car parts, settled himself behind a half destroyed Chevrolet with his back to the sandblasted door when the light when out. The heartbeat that thundered in his ears pumped adrenaline into his veins like a singing fuel, he was running on fumes and the spike in his bloodstream like the spark of arousal was a welcome kick.

"Where in the dark is our black soldier friend." The rumbling taunt sang through the gloom, Kanda would almost pinpoint its location. With a careful hand he tugged the spare cartridge of amo out of his boot and shoved it in the inside breast pocket of his coat where he could reach more easily. He wasn't absolutely positive what he had in his standard issue would take down a man who could shrug off a sucking wound to the chest.

He closed his eyes, let his dim surroundings go still, and breathed. He had been jumpy earlier, raw adrenaline on an empty system did that, but now he was calm and professional. Now he had a job to do. Black soldier he said. So he knew of the Order, knew he was a part of it. Akuma, or Noah?

He opened his eyes to an adjusted focus, in light and in battle. His hand no longer trembled on the gun, and his mind no longer clutched at a mesh of instinct and muscle memory. Now it was all training and survival and doing the job.

He crept along on his haunches to the edge of the car, peered around. At such a low angle he couldn't make out much, too many machines, parts, and containers in the way, but to stand up exposed him. Instead he tracked shadows, took notes on his surroundings. So many clustered and cluttered areas, nowhere really open. The big man would likely stick to the empty car slots, enough room for him to move around.

"Come out come out!" was the bellowed rage and a huge tool crate was flipped and crashing down on the hood of the car he hid behind, smashing the windshield into a spider web of glass. Kanda jolted, but didn't move. Still and silent. Okay, so maybe he'd just throw things.

More objects were tossed, smashing and thundering. He knew the location now and could end it fairly quickly. Maybe.

He ducked around the Chevy and rolled into the open, gun pointed and fired into the gray and black and shadow.

And was hit by a tire.

He skidded back, breath choked in his lungs, pain a flash of lightning in if face and chest and gut. He rolled, came up on liquid legs and tried to duck back into the tight spaces between cars and tools and parts but the blearing shadows in his throbbing eyes made him stumble and ram noisily against a crate. His opponent was on him in an instant and hauled him up, tossing him out into the open once more.

His gun was lost, but not the fight. He spat the blood pooling in his mouth and wiped it from his nose, focusing his glare at the man who stepped up before him.

"Now that introductions are over." He settled into a battle stance.

The man grinned and the image was grotesque and monstrous, not because he was a hideous man, but because the insanity and bloodlust that twisted his features made it that way. "You can call me Skin." The man was across to him in three strides and the real fight began.

Skin was bigger, much bigger than Kanda, and that counted in a fight, but so did swiftness and skill, and for a while it looked like it was in Kanda's favor, until a fist cracked into his cheek, nearly snapping his head off his shoulders with the force and ringing his ears with the sharp pierce of a siren. It left him dazed for just that instant needed to grip his collar and throw him once more to the ground.

"Morons, all of you." He dug a toe into the Order member's ribs and rolled him on his back. "You're so busy chasing Cross you don't even realize what's right in front of you, you could have us, but all the Order cares about is one little deserter." Noah then. Kanda blinked, felt the heaviness of a boot settle on his sternum, the man was so huge simply settling his full weight would be enough to crush his chest, the unfriendly grin vanished, and slashed in its place was an ugly scowl "Since you didn't get the last warning, I'll just have to leave your corpse for them next. Stay away from Carbon." He pulled his foot up to crush it down, and a shrill familiar crabbing sounded like an alarm. Timcanpy lunged down from somewhere in the shadows and clawed at Skin's face, who howled in rage and grabbed it, flinging it into the mess of machinery.

'Noah.' It was all that echoed through Kanda's mind and with a face swollen with blood and rage he reared up, hand fisted, and jammed it in the exposed groin above him.

Skin's jaw gapped, face turning ashen and balance disrupted he toppled backwards. Kanda curled his legs to his chest, his hands up, palms to floor beside his head, and rolled body over head away, landing in a crouch to face his fallen enemy, who struggled to rise, shook his head, and threw up.

"Another body huh?" he snarled, getting the leverage of a running start he landed a kick into the ribs, forcing the man back down into his own vomit and feeling the give as ribs crunched beneath his boot. He wiped the heel of his hand against his cheek where pain still blossomed with every working of his jaw. It was likely cracked or broken, he hoped they wouldn't have to wire his jaw shut again. "I only know one Order member dying in this city, care to guess who he was?" There was a nice looking iron rod broken from when Skin had tossed things about. He picked it up, walked around the man to his head, out of reach of those long arms and big hands.

"Heh, a screamer from what I heard."

"Wrong answer." He swung the shaft and caught him upside the head, blood splatter dotted the oil stained concrete. 'We'll try a different question." He settled his weight on his heels, rolled his shoulders. "Who killed Daisya?"

"Ortho." Skin grinned up with blood stained teeth. "The weed killer." The metal rod slammed into him again, this time it lashed his knees three times and blood bloomed against the denim of his pants. The pain did nothing but fuel his rage.

"We can do this all day." Kanda's shoulder sang in agony, but he kept his stance casual and assured. "Not like I have anywhere to be, you killed my mechanic." He slammed the pipe down in his gut this time. "So, let's try again, Noah. Who killed my brother?"

"Ask the 14th." Skin wheezed.

"Who?" Kanda crouched down.

"White Carbon." And fueled by than name and his wrath he lunged up, grabbing the Asian man's neck in his big hands.

Kanda put the rod in his eye.


A shock sent Allen stumbling backwards, hand flying to clutch at his chest where a sharp pressurized pain flared to a brilliant agony. Cross managed to catch him before he collapsed, settle him on the bed, the monitor connected to him was going crazy, panicking in its chiming language. "What's wrong? Hey, brat what's. Fuck." He grabbed the emergency call button and shouted at Tyki, but the man was slumped in his chair, hands clutching his head. No help there.

"Wrath." Allen breathed, eyes watered from the pain. His hand flailed blindly, gripped Tyki's as the nurses rushed in.

"Si, Garato. Eu senti isso tambem." Their hands disconnected as the albino was surrounded, speaking too loudly, too layered, for the man to be heard. "O Titanio e morto."


This ended up taking way too long. Damn them and their sexual tension. Suman betrays the Order and people die next chapter, I couldn't fit it in this one. I couldn't fit a lot in this chapter. Pisses me off.

That fight scene is nowhere near as awesome as it should have been, but I'm, burnt out and a little irritable from taking two months to update when I wanted to keep this to a chapter a week. It just fought me all the way, so I half assed it in the last two scenes. I'm taking a break this weekend before starting on Boron, working a little on PO, maybe jotting down a sexy little Yullen oneshot for you guys, I have plenty of them lying around. Like a Piano is short enough I can do it in a few hours.

You people may have noticed my…dislike of subtitles and translations. I hate them, they take away from the experience I think. It works great in film or visual media, but in writing translations tend to be speed bumps, jolting people out of the story. So I've gotten a request, and am toying with the idea, of having a glossary chapter that will be updated after every knew chapter. A list of common words, as well as translations ordered by the chapter, for your convenience. Would you all like that?

On a final note Order training in Stibarsen is based, or rather heavily influenced, by the Russian Spetznaz. If you want an idea of the fucking bullshit Kanda was put through as a child to adult I suggest you read The Inside Story of the Soviet Special Forces by Viktor Suvorov, it's free online. Below is a tiny hint.

"It's not water they are in - it's blood. Blood up to the knees, the waist, the chest. On the walls and the ceiling are chunks of rotten flesh, piles of bleeding entrails. The steps are slippery from slimy bits of brain. Undecided, the young soldiers jam the corridor. Then somebody in the darkness lets a huge dog off its chain."